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ERCISE OF FAITH ON THE PART OF THE
FOLLY AND THE WICKEDNESS OF MEN.
you in such a way as may enable you | impart to Esau a compensation for to derive both moral instruction, and the loss of his birth-right, that heedconfirmation of your faith, from a less, but not ungenerous, had, in passage of scripture that at first sight a moment of wanton indifference, appears so unpromising.
and under the impulse of a casual Let me previously observe, that the pressure of hunger, parted with the words of my text sufficiently evince privilege of primogeniture, selling it to us that the Apostle does not dis- to his younger brother for a mess of claim the account given by Moses of pottage. the mode in which the blessing was In so doing he had not only forconferred by Isaac ; but speaks of it, feited and transferred that larger as an act of faith on his part. “By share of power and that double porfaith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau tion of his father's goods, which concerning things to come.” Having, formed part of the advantage of being thus, apostolical authority that the the first born, but also the high and sascene is one worthy of our contem- cred honour of being the priest of his plation, let us enter on the considera- family and presiding in the offices of tion of it; in the course of which, religion. It is in reference to this we shall be led to notice the ex- latter circumstance-to his having
sold away the sacred, as well as the AGED PATRIARCH, and shall at the secular part of his inheritance, that same time perceive HOW THE UNALTER- he is called by St. Paul, when alABLE PURPOSES OF THE ALMIGHTY ARE luding to this act, a profane person, BROUGHT ABOUT, EVEN THROUGH THE as having shown a contempt for holy
things as well as a disregard of his Isaac, then, finding himself draw- more worldly interests. Isaac, then, ing near to the extreme verge of his as I observed, might, probably, hope earthly existence, was desirous, be- to reinstate his eldest son in that fore he closed his eyes in death, of honourable condition from which he conferring his blessing upon his first had fallen, by conferring upon him born son.
blessing so pregnant with holy priThis Hesire of Isaac's was an in-vilege as that which he was going to dication of his faith, for he knew and pronounce. Isaac did not at once bebelieved that the blessing which he stow his blessing, but was induced to was going to confer would carry with give to it a formality which should disit a privilege of the highest possible play its importance. This he did acimportance,-a privilege far exceed-cording to the simplicity—the almost ing any human dignity or any earthly original simplicity-of nature, that possession. The covenant that the characterized the times in which he Creator had established with Abra- lived, by directing his son to prepare ham, and after him with Isaac,—the for him such a repast as he was covenant, according to which all the fond of, and that having partaken of nations of the earth should be blessed, that “his soul might bless him be-was to be maintained and preserved fore he died.” in the person to whom the dying Rebekah heard this direction given blessing of Isaac should be imparted to the eldest son, and immediately Knowing and believing this, he was determined to thwart the purpose of anxious to bestow it upon his eldest her husband and procure the blessing son, Esan. He probably thought, by for the youngest of her two sons. And the communication of this blessing, to here the criminal part of the transac
tion commences, a wife determines to scruples of her child, and stimulating deceive her husband, and instructs him to the act of deceit towards his her own child in the arts of decep- father. “Upon me be thy curse, tion necessary for the purpose. She my son: only obey my voice, and go, gives him what she had begrudged fetch me them.” It cannot but occur her eldest son, two young kids of the to our minds, in reflecting upon this flock; she herself makes the savoury passage, how dreadful is the state of a meal, through which her favourite family divided against itself. Nature son is to rob his brother of his bless-herself tells us, that the affection ing. Jacob appears to shrink from the of the father and the mother should principal proposed deceit, from a fear flow ever in the same channel and of detection and a very proper sense with one uniform current. It is painof the consequence that might ensue ; |ful, therefore, to witness one parent "my father, peradventure, will feel centering his affections in one child, me and I shall seem to him as a de- and the other in another. But how ceiver, and, I shall bring a curse much more painful, to witness the upon me and not a blessing.” Would wife stirring up the child to disobethat every child felt an equally anx- dience or disregard of the husband, ious fear of bringing down upon his or the husband encouraging his offhead a parent's execration. How ter- spring to disobey, or neglect their rible indeed is the thought that a fa- mother. A house so divided cannot ther's or a mother's voice, may have stand—cannot stand in happiness or appealed to heaven against us, and in prosperity-cannot stand in estimacalled down upon our heads, in a mo- tion with men or in favour with God. ment of just indignation, the anger of Nothing but what is evil can result the Father of all; how much more from such an unholy disunion. Let terrible, if the voice, that made such the heads of families shrink from so appeal, should be hushed in the si- fatal a state of contention, and strive lence of the grave, and the execra- by every means to draw closer the tion pronounced, should be therefore bonds of mutual union between thembeyond the possibility of being re- selves and all their offspring. A facalled. Olet not those who have mily circle is capable of being made the happiness of still possessing the a kind of heaven upon earth. Let it advantage of parental protection and not become what I should shudder regard, bring upon themselves so even to name, but what it may be fearful a hazard. Let them not by rendered by a wilful misdirection of thoughtlessly diregarding their pa- the natural affections. rents' wishes, or perversely thwarting Before the close of this discourse, it their reasonable desires, induce them will appear that no encouragement to to utter any bitter expression of re- such an evil course can be drawn from sentment respecting them. Let the the example of Rebekah. “Upon me apprehension expressed by Jacob,“ I be thy curse," she said—and it fell shall bring a curse upon me," present upon her in a way that she must have itself to the mind of every child, who deeply felt. feels impelled by any wayward in- Jacob gave way to his mother, and clination to incur a parent's displea- here he became guilty. Where the line sure, and let the thought recall him of duty is clearly drawn, no earthly to a sense of filial duty.
power can authorize us to transgress. How sad is it to hear the wife and to injure a brother -- to deceive a mother answering the conscientious father-are unquestionable violations
of duty. It is a dreadful thing, indeed, the path of integrity in all our dealwhen a child is placed under the ne- ings. One act of deceit, or one equicessity of refusing to perform the vocating reply, will probably render command of a parent - but still we others necessary to screen us from must obey God, rather than man: and detection : so little can we tell when therefore, where the will of God is we venture upon the way of iniquity, manifestly revealed to us, we must not how far we shall go, or at what point hesitate ; but surely the wrath of the we shall be enabled to pause and Almighty avenger will rest upon the draw back. Let us therefore take head of that parent, who thus places heed to our ways, and beware of the his child in a painful dilemma, and deceitfulness of sin by which we may forces him to be either guilty or to be lured on to our eternal ruin. preserve bis integrity with the loss of By this complication of frauds, a parent's love.
Jacob obtained his father's blessingJacob, submitting himself to his that blessing, which secured to him mother's will, is by her hand supplied all the privileges of primogeniture, with the means of deceiving his aged that he had previously obtained at so father. His eldest brother's garments unequal price as well as the inestiare put upon him—his hands and his mable honour “ that from his loins neck are covered with the skins of the Redeemer should descend.” One the kids, the hair of which in Eastern part of the blessing pronounced, countries is represented by travellers “ Let people serve thee, and nations to be very like that of men. Thus bow down to thee” was fulfilled in equipped, that he may impose upon a subordinate sepse, when David, that dimness of sight which age had the descendant of Jacob, conquered brought upon his father, he goes to him not only the Moabites, Ammowith the savoury meat in his hands. nites, Syrians, Philistines, but also
And now, I would entreat my youn- the Edomites, the very descendants ger brethren, to observe the conse- of Esau. It was fulfilled more sigquences of entering on the path of in- nally when the Gentiles, being condifference, of treachery and deceit. verted to the Gospel, paid obedience Jacob had calculated on his father's to Jesus, the descendant of Jacob doubting his identity, and reckoned according to the flesh — and it will that he would feel him, to ascertain be still more conspicuously fulfilled, whether he were Esau, or not. He had when the fulness of the Gentiles shall probably, however, not expected that come in, and all Israel shall be saved ; he should be reduced to the necessity when the posterity of Jacob shall be of falsehood for the support of his as- gathered from all the ends of the earth, sumed character ;-yet is he obliged dwell in their own land, and their rest to descend so low, or confess his de- shall be glorious. ceit. How is it, said Isaac, that thou Scarcely had Jacob quitted his fahast brought it so quickly, my son ? ther's presence, when Esau returns, “ Because the Lord thy God brought bringing with him the fruits of his it to me,” replied Jacob, adding im- own dutiful endeavours to impart piety to falsehood. “ Art thou my very pleasure to his aged father. The son Esau?” asked Isaac, under the in- scene which followed must have been fluence of doubt and perplexity. “I deeply trying to Isaac, for it is painam," replies the now unabashed and ful to all who read or hear it read. hardened impostor. We here see “Let my father arise,” said Esau, how needful it is to keep strictly to " and eat of his son's venison that
thy soul may bless me.” And Isaac, | dently ask any one in this assembly, his father, said unto him, who art but still more confidently would I ask thou ? And he said, I am thy son, thy any parent here, if he can conceive first born, Esau. And Isaac trembled any other feeling strong enough to very exceedingly, and said, Who? uphold the patriarch under solicitawhere is be who hath taken venison tions so adapted to penetrate to his and brought it me, and I have eaten very inmost heart, but the influence of all before thou camest, and have of religion. Faith, and faith alone, blessed him ? yea, and he shall be could have prevented him from giving blessed." • Yea, and he shall be full vent to his excited affections, and blessed.” Observe these words, my pouring such a torrent of execration brethren: see how, amidst all the upon him who had thus deceived him, anguish that must have rent his as would have more than counterbosom at this detection of his younger balanced the blessing he had uttered. son's treachery to him, yet his faith Isaac believed that the covenant made is manifested and swerves not even with Abraham had accompanied the for a moment. Jacob knew the effi- blessing pronounced, and had been cacy of the blessing that he had pro- transferred to Jacob: and he felt it nounced, and though every earthly, impossible to recall it. every human feeling must have im- He did, however, bless Esau, but pelled him to revoke it, yet he would in terms of inferior efficacy to those not utter a syllable to that effect. His which he had addressed to Jacob. faith in the covenant of promise over- He predicted to him and his posterity came his well-founded indignation at a sufficient abundance of earthly posthe duplicity and the falsehood of his sessions, but announced that they son, and he submitted to what he felt should be addicted to violence-living to be the divine will.
by the sword (as the Edomites subThis maintenance of his faith must sequently did), but in a state of subhave been attended, indeed, with jection to the descendants of Jacob; many an inward struggle, for the adding, however, that “they should appeal of Esau was of the most touch- one day break that yoke from off ing and piercing nature. “He cried their neck," as they actually did in with an exceeding great and bitter the reign of Jehoram, when, as we cry, Bless me, even me also, O my read, the Edomites revolted from father.” And, again, after complain- under the dominion of Judah, and ing of his brother's present treachery made themselves a king, thus fuland former spoliation, he says, “Hast filling the prophecy 900 years after thou not reserved a blessing for me?" it had been delivered. And a third time, in answer to Isaac's Thus, then, my brethren, does it affectionate remonstrance, Behold, appear, that by “faith Isaac blessed I have made him thy lord, and all Jacob and Esau concerning things to his brethren have I given to him for come.” And should not this fact, thus servants, and with corn and wine have elucidated and corroberated, draw I sustained him, and what shall I us nearer to our God, and induce us now do unto thee, my son?”
to cultivate that holy feeling of faith, Esau reiterated his affecting sup- without which it is impossible to plication, Hast thou but one bless- please him. We are not called to ing, my father? bless me, even me resist any natural affections, but to also, O my father, and he lift up his take upon us a yoke that is easy, voice, and wept.” I would confi- and a burthen that is light.” “Be
lieve in the Lord Jesus Christ, and nant of grace, as were Rebekah and thou shalt be saved." This is our Jacob? Let us remember that they direction—this is the faith that we lived in primitive times, when a rudemust exercise. By obeying it in its ness of moral, as well as social feelevident meaning and application-ing prevailed, which is comparatively showing our faith by our works, and unknown to us through the combined looking to Jesus as the author and influence of Christianity and civilifinisher of it—we may so run our
zation. earthly career, as to be admitted to Do we wonder that the Scripture sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, relates such revolting scenes to us? and Jacob in that heavenly kingdom to Let us consider that the treachery of which-all their human frailties and Jacob and Rebekah was necessary transgressions having been remitted to be told, as being the method in and blotted out-they have been ex- which it was brought about, that the alted through that Redeemer, in covenant of promise should be fulwhose future coming they believed filled in the lineage of Jacob:-and and trusted, the Lord Jesus Christ. that when told, it is merely related
Let us now conclude with some re- with the simplicity of truth, and with flections which the subject suggests. not a single word that can lead us to
Do we not perceive, both in Jacob suppose that the deceit should be and Esau, an anxious desire to secure viewed with any other feeling than a father's blessing? Let those of us that of abhorrence. Is there any pracwho still have parents, be led to feel tical encouragement to domestic inthe same anxiety, and endeavour to trigue, and mutual deception in fagain that object; being assured that milies to be drawn from this history? no earthly feeling will tend more to No; but a fearful lesson to a very cheer us through life and console us opposite tendency, is deducible. For in death, than the thought that we what was the consequence to Jacob were blessed by the lips-more espe- himself of his conduct on this occacially should it be by the dying lips sion ? He was obliged to fly from the -of those who gave us birth. And presence of his justly offended broto you, my younger brethren of this ther, and live an exile in a foreign Institution, let me suggest, that you land, lest he should perish by the should endeavour to obtain the favour hand of him whom he had injured. and the approbation of your guardians In that scene of his banishment, he and protectors here, who have been had to endure a long and degrading given to you by a gracious pro- servitude, in the course of which he vidence, to discharge toward you the probably thought much and deeply parental duties. Be assured that of the conduct which he had pursued their favour and approbation, should towards his brother; and as we may you succeed in obtaining it, will be judge from his subsequent humiliathe best reward next to that of your tion to him, when they met, he sinheavenly father, of all your diligence cerely repented of the offence that and good conduct, and will supply he had given him. And what shall you with many a happy thought in we say of Rebekah? She suffered your progress through life.
the fate due to mothers who sow enDo we wonder at the existence of mity between their children ;-She so much duplicity in persons, con
was doomed to hear the one denouncnected immediately with the cove-ing vengeance against the other, as