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But whatever was the nature of the petition, God vouchsafed only a temporal blessing. Forster's reasoning hangs here upon a very slender thread, and yet upon that is suspended the whole of his argument! he says, the covenant of Ishmael,

"Would seem, as well from the manner of its announcement, as from the general analogy of character plainly intended by the parallel terms of the two covenants, to contain a certain real, though low and subordinate, spiritual application. Indeed that Abraham should have offered up the petition that Ishmael might live in the light of God's countenance, and under a Divine blessing and protection (a petition certainly implied by the prayer that he might live before Jehovah, and inherit the promise granted in favour of Isaac), may be received as conclusive and moral evidence on this point; for a blessing of a merely temporal nature was little likely to be thus sought by 'the father of the faithful'; in whose eyes things temporal appear invariably to have been held in little estimation" (p. 119).

Assuming thus, the whole point at issue, he proceeds:—

"In the case of Isaac, we know the precise manner and steps of the accomplishment; and in our knowledge of this detail, possess the clue for investigating the analogous accomplishment, in the case of Ishmael. It is requisite only, that the apparent historical fulfilments of the covenant of Ishmael shall be found on examination to correspond with the ascertained historical fulfilments of the covenant of Isaac, and if there be any force in the scriptural analogy established between those brethren, the demonstration aimed at in these pages must be considered complete" (p. 132).

Forster's ideas, however, of a promised blessing, and its fulfilment, are very singular. He assumes that because Hagar was a bondswoman, and Ishmael illegitimate, the religion of their descendants must partake of the qualities of both; in his own language,

"If from Isaac was to spring the true religion; from Ishmael there might be expected to arise as a counterpart, a spurious faith. If the true Messiah, the descendant of Isaac, and who, like him, came by promise, was to be the founder of the one creed; a counterfeit Messiah, the descendant of Ishmael, and who, like him, should come without promise, could be the only appropriate founder of the other" (p. 90). And again, "Prophecy cannot be supposed to recognise in Ishmael, the child of the flesh, the son of the bondwoman, the illegitimate, seed, anything higher than the fore


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