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VISION OF THE PATRIARCH.
JACOB, AT BETHEL,
"And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.
"Arise, go to Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel, thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban, thy mother's brother.
"And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people,
"And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with thee, that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham." (Gen. xxviii. 1-4.)
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
Ir is among the most delightful of all considerations, that the church of our most glorious Christ, and every individual of that church, in all that we have, and in all that we are; yea, and in all that we ever shall be, to all eternity; is only as we are in Christ. The everlasting love of the Holy Three in One," which bear record in heaven," to the persons of the Lord's people, is, as they are in him.
There is no blessing out of Christ. All blessings are in Christ. "Men shall be blessed in him." (Psalm lxxii. 17.) "For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell." (Col. i. 19.) And it is said that" of his fulness have all we received and grace for grace." (John i. 16.) And I speak with all possible reverence when I say, that Jehovah in his Trinity of persons could not love or behold any object with complacency and delight, but as that object is related to, and accepted in, the Lord Jesus Christ. For to this purport is the whole tenour of Scripture. It is said to be, "to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Eph. i. 6.)
And it is very blessed, when the redeemed and regenerated child of God is brought into a personal knowledge of, and acquaintance with the Lord Jesus Christ. For then, "having an unction from the holy one, to know all things;" (1 John ii. 20.) when at any time treading on Scripture-ground, he acquires (what can only be learnt spiritually) an apprehension how that love of Jehovah in his Trinity of persons, hath been manifested from everlasting to his people, "chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world; " this opens to him a continual source of holy joy. He beholds a thousand instances of that love marked in each page of the lives of the Lord's chosen; yea, and in his own life also, which, before the Lord brought him acquainted with himself, he knew not. Every child of God, even the whole election of grace, during the days of their unregeneracy, live, and are living, alike, in a total unconsciousness of it. And although they are all the while, and have been, both the objects and the subjects of everlasting love, yet, until brought out of nature's darkness into God's marvellous light, they are wholly ignorant of their high estate in Christ. The love of God, like a mighty
river, hath been running from all eternity; and the sweet streams of it in numberless ways, both in nature and in providence; yea, and in preventing and restraining grace also; have been flowing in upon them in various directions. But both the source and the cause are alike hidden from their darkened view. They receive indeed the gifts, but they discern not the Giver. The Lord's mercies come constant as the morning; but the Lord's hand is obscured to their sight, in a cloud of his own bounties. But at length when the day-spring from on high hath visited them; (and as the Scripture beautifully expresseth it) "the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,” then is discovered, both the source of all their blessings, and their unworthiness when receiving of them; and they then see that "not by works of righteousness, (as one confessed, and all know) which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, shed upon us abundantly through Jesus, our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus iii. 4-7.)
These truths are exemplified, more or less, in the life of every individual member of Christ's mystical body. But the Holy Ghost, in his glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ, hath been pleased to bring forward in his sacred Scriptures, many illustrious instances of the kind in the history of the Lord's people, and marked, in one and another of their lives, the prominent features of sovereign mercy displayed towards them, both while in their original state of nature, and when in their after state recovered by grace.
Among the many, that of the patriarch Jacob, stands eminently conspicuous. His life hath been remarkable even from his birth. And indeed before
his birth the Lord had made a revelation to his mother, in answer to her prayer, of the gracious purposes of the Lord towards him. Though in the ordinations of the Lord, it was so appointed, that Jacob should be the younger brother; yet the Lord declared that he should have the pre-eminency to birth-right. "The elder (said the Lord) shall serve the younger." (Gen. xxvi. 21-23.) And the Lord was farther pleased by the ministry of his servants, the prophet Malachi, in the Old Testament, and the apostle Paul, in the New, to declare, that this choice of Jacob, and the rejection of Esau, had respect to an higher concern than that of mere rank, or the gifts of earthly possessions. (See Mal. i. 2-5. Rom. ix.10.)
But the revelation of this distinguishing grace to Jacob himself, in the everlasting love of God in Christ, appears to have been reserved for the period to which the Scripture refers, on his arrival at Bethel. Here it was, the visions of God began with this man, and opened to him the word of God, in a full display of the divine glory. Here it was, in this memorable spot, that the Lord brought the patriarch personally and savingly into a knowledge of himself. And here commenced, by the medium of a vision, that acquaintance between the Lord and the patriarch, which taught Jacob of the grace shewn him, in having a being in Christ, and a well-being in Christ; and which, by sovereign decree, took place "before the world began."
The Scripture, in relation to this great event, as appears by the introduction of this chapter, speaks of it in the most striking manner. Isaac, the father of Jacob, is here sending away his younger son, in order that he might escape the wrath of his elder brother Esau. And in this dismission, he gave him a strict injunction not to form any alliance with the daughters of Canaan. I stay not to consider this part of the
subject. For although in respect to the patriarch's history, as connected with the church, the charge would furnish much room for improvement; yet upon the present occasion, limited as this little work necessarily must be within a small compass, I am constrained to pass all minor considerations, in order to give the more attention to such as are of an higher and more imperative nature. I shall therefore bring forward no more of the general history of Jacob, than what may serve to illustrate this interesting view proposed of him when at Bethel. For here we find ample materials for the most pleasing and profitable meditation; and in which, the subject, explained and illustrated as it now is by the gospel, riseth to such a magnificence of infinite importance as leaves at a vast distance every other of a secondary and subordinate kind.
I begin with requesting the reader's attention to the Scripture itself, in relation to the blessing with which Isaac blessed Jacob. He calls it "the blessing of Abraham." And he said: "God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people. And give thee the blessing of Abraham to thee, and to thy seed with thee, that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham."
Now let the reader observe the very striking manner of expression here used. "The blessing of Abraham." Why? the Lord gave Abraham a thousand blessings, in things of nature and providence; yes, but here is one specific, special, personal blessing. "The blessing of Abraham." So that it is not the common blessing of natural affection which Isaac meant, and which many parents like Isaac, bestow upon their children. But in fact, it is that special, personal blessing, which comes not within the province of any parents to bestow. It is the Lord's gift