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5He did not give him any of it as a heritage, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as his possession and to his descendants after him, even though he had no child.

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5. We must note three firings in this place; that God exercised the patience of his servant, because, after that he had brought him out of his own country, he dwelt in the land of Canaan as a stranger.

[First,] For Abraham possessed not one foot’s-breadth, save only that which he bought to bury in. And that is counted no possession which serveth not for the uses of this life. Secondly, forasmuch as that field was bought, Stephen doth for good causes say, that God gave Abraham nothing. For that could not be gotten either with money, or by any other means which man could invent, which Abraham did hope for of the promise.

Secondly, we must note, that though God did not show Abraham the thing itself as yet, yet did he uphold him by his word. And this is our stay, when God promiseth that that is laid up for us which as yet we possess not. Therefore, when as the thing, that is, the possession of the land, was wanting, Abraham had for his help and stay the promise of God; and being content with the same alone, he desired nothing in the land of Canaan save only an uncertain resting-place wherein he might sojourn.

For as much as [επαγγελλεσθαι] signifieth simply to promise, I thought there was no cause why, with Erasmus, I should translate it in this place, to promise again. For I resolve it adversatively, although he had promised, that by the way we may note as it were, a show of deceiving, 377377     “Ut oblique species frustrationis,” that a species of frustration may be indirectly noted. unless peradventure some man be disposed to apply it unto the promises which are oftentimes repeated. 378378     “Quod liberum relinquo,” I leave the point open, omitted.

Thirdly, we must note that the promise was such that it did not much differ from a mere mock. God promised the land to the seed of Abraham when he was fourscore years old, and had to wife one that was barren, neither had he any hope to have any issue. This seemeth to be more than frivolous. For why doth he not rather promise that he will give him seed? But this was a notable trial of faith, in that Abraham, without asking any question, or any curious disputation, did obediently and meekly embrace that which he had heard proceed out of the mouth of the Lord. Therefore, let us remember that God doth so lift up and comfort his servant with his word, that he doth not only defer the giving of the thing, 379379     “Exhibitionem,” the exhibition, or manifestation. but also he may seem after a sort to mock him; as he dealeth with us also in some respect. For, although he call us the heirs of the world, (James 2:5,) he suffereth us oftentimes to want even a competent living and necessary helps. And this doth he of set purpose, that he may bring the wisdom of the flesh to nought, seeing that we do not otherwise give due honor to his word.




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