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impart to Esau a compensation for the loss of his birth-right, that heedless, but not ungenerous, had, in a moment of wanton indifference, and under the impulse of a casual pressure of hunger, parted with the privilege of primogeniture, selling it to his younger brother for a mess of pottage.
In so doing he had not only forfeited and transferred that larger share of power and that double portion of his father's goods, which formed part of the advantage of being the first born, but also the high and sacred honour of being the priest of his family and presiding in the offices of religion. It is in reference to this latter circumstance-to his having sold away the sacred, as well as the secular part of his inheritance, that he is called by St. Paul, when alluding to this act, a profane person, as having shown a contempt for holy things as well as a disregard of his more worldly interests. Isaac, then, as I observed, might, probably, hope to reinstate his eldest son in that honourable condition from which he had fallen, by conferring upon him a blessing so pregnant with holy priin-vilege as that which he was going to pronounce. Isaac did not at once bestow his blessing, but was induced to give to it a formality which should display its importance. This he did ac
you in such a way as may enable you to derive both moral instruction, and confirmation of your faith, from a passage of scripture that at first sight appears so unpromising.
Let me previously observe, that the words of my text sufficiently evince to us that the Apostle does not disclaim the account given by Moses of the mode in which the blessing was conferred by Isaac; but speaks of it, as an act of faith on his part. "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come." Having, thus, apostolical authority that the scene is one worthy of our contemplation, let us enter on the consideration of it; in the course of which, we shall be led to notice THE EXERCISE OF FAITH ON THE PART OF THE
AGED PATRIARCH, and shall at the
BROUGHT ABOUT, EVEN THROUGH THE
Isaac, then, finding himself drawing near to the extreme verge of his earthly existence, was desirous, before he closed his eyes in death, of conferring his blessing upon his first born son.
This desire of Isaac's was an dication of his faith, for he knew and believed that the blessing which he was going to confer would carry with it a privilege of the highest possible importance, a privilege far exceed-cording to the simplicity-the almost ing any human dignity or any earthly possession. The covenant that the Creator had established with Abraham, and after him with Isaac,-the covenant, according to which all the nations of the earth should be blessed, -was to be maintained and preserved in the person to whom the dying blessing of Isaac should be imparted. Knowing and believing this, he was anxious to bestow it upon his eldest son, Esau. He probably thought, by the communication of this blessing, to
original simplicity-of nature, that characterized the times in which he lived, by directing his son to prepare for him such a repast as he was fond of, and that having partaken of that "his soul might bless him before he died."
Rebekah heard this direction given to the eldest son, and immediately determined to thwart the purpose of her husband and procure the blessing for the youngest of her two sons. And here the criminal part of the transac
scruples of her child, and stimulating him to the act of deceit towards his father. "Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go, fetch me them." It cannot but occur to our minds, in reflecting upon this passage, how dreadful is the state of a
tion commences, a wife determines to deceive her husband, and instructs her own child in the arts of deception necessary for the purpose. She gives him what she had begrudged her eldest son, two young kids of the flock; she herself makes the savoury 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 head a parent's execration. How terrible indeed is the thought that a father's or a mother's voice, may have | appealed to heaven against us, and called down upon our heads, in a moment of just indignation, the anger of the Father of all; how much more terrible, if the voice, that made such appeal, should be hushed in the silence of the grave, and the execration pronounced, should be therefore beyond the possibility of being recalled. O let not those who have the happiness of still possessing the advantage of parental protection and regard, bring upon themselves so fearful a hazard. Let them not by thoughtlessly diregarding their parents' wishes, or perversely thwarting their reasonable desires, induce them to utter any bitter expression of resentment respecting them. Let the apprehension expressed by Jacob, "I shall bring a curse upon me," present itself to the mind of every child, who feels impelled by any wayward inclination to incur a parent's displeasure, and let the thought recall him to a sense of filial duty.
How sad is it to hear the wife and mother answering the conscientious
or the husband encouraging his offspring to disobey, or neglect their mother. A house so divided cannot stand-cannot stand in happiness or in prosperity-cannot stand in estimation with men or in favour with GOD. Nothing but what is evil can result from such an unholy disunion. Let the heads of families shrink from so fatal a state of contention, and strive by every means to draw closer the bonds of mutual union between themselves and all their offspring. A family circle is capable of being made a kind of heaven upon earth. Let it not become what I should shudder even to name, but what it may be rendered by a wilful misdirection of the natural affections.
Before the close of this discourse, it will appear that no encouragement to such an evil course can be drawn from the example of Rebekah. "Upon me be thy curse," she said—and it fell upon her in a way that she must have deeply felt.
Jacob gave way to his mother, and here he became guilty. Where the line of duty is clearly drawn, no earthly power can authorize us to transgress. To injure a brother to deceive a father-are unquestionable violations
of duty. It is a dreadful thing, indeed, when a child is placed under the necessity of refusing to perform the command of a parent—but still we must obey GOD, rather than man: and therefore, where the will of GoD is manifestly revealed to us, we must not hesitate; but surely the wrath of the Almighty avenger will rest upon the head of that parent, who thus places his child in a painful dilemma, and forces him to be either guilty or to preserve his integrity with the loss of a parent's love.
Jacob, submitting himself to his mother's will, is by her hand supplied with the means of deceiving his aged father. His eldest brother's garments are put upon him-his hands and his neck are covered with the skins of the kids, the hair of which in Eastern countries is represented by travellers to be very like that of men. Thus equipped, that he may impose upon that dimness of sight which age had brought upon his father, he goes to him with the savoury meat in his hands.
the path of integrity in all our dealings. One act of deceit, or one equivocating reply, will probably render others necessary to screen us from detection: so little can we tell when we venture upon the way of iniquity, how far we shall go, or at what point we shall be enabled to pause and draw back. Let us therefore take heed to our ways, and beware of the deceitfulness of sin by which we may be lured on to our eternal ruin.
And now, I would entreat my younger brethren, to observe the consequences of entering on the path of indifference, of treachery and deceit. Jacob had calculated on his father's doubting his identity, and reckoned that he would feel him, to ascertain whether he were Esau, or not. He had probably, however, not expected that he should be reduced to the necessity of falsehood for the support of his assumed character;—yet is he obliged to descend so low, or confess his deceit. How is it, said Isaac, that thou hast brought it so quickly, my son? "Because the Lord thy God brought it to me," replied Jacob, adding impiety to falsehood. “Art thou my very son Esau?" asked Isaac, under the influence of doubt and perplexity. "I am," replies the now unabashed and hardened impostor. We here see how needful it is to keep strictly to
By this complication of frauds, Jacob obtained his father's blessingthat blessing, which secured to him all the privileges of primogeniture, that he had previously obtained at so unequal price as well as the inestimable honour" that from his loins the Redeemer should descend." One part of the blessing pronounced, "Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee" was fulfilled in a subordinate sense, when David, the descendant of Jacob, conquered not only the Moabites, Ammonites, Syrians, Philistines, but also the Edomites, the very descendants of Esau. It was fulfilled more signally when the Gentiles, being converted to the Gospel, paid obedience to Jesus, the descendant of Jacob according to the flesh-and it will be still more conspicuously fulfilled, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, and all Israel shall be saved; when the posterity of Jacob shall be gathered from all the ends of the earth, dwell in their own land, and their rest shall be glorious.
Scarcely had Jacob quitted his father's presence, when Esau returns, bringing with him the fruits of his own dutiful endeavours to impart pleasure to his aged father. The scene which followed must have been deeply trying to Isaac, for it is painful to all who read or hear it read. "Let my father arise," said Esau, "and eat of his son's venison that
thy soul may bless me." And Isaac, his father, said unto him, who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy first born, Esau. And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he who hath taken venison and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed." 66 Yea, and he shall be blessed." Observe these words, my brethren see how, amidst all the anguish that must have rent his bosom at this detection of his younger son's treachery to him, yet his faith is manifested and swerves not even for a moment. Jacob knew the efficacy of the blessing that he had pronounced, and though every earthly, every human feeling must have impelled him to revoke it, yet he would not utter a syllable to that effect. His faith in the covenant of promise overcame his well-founded indignation at the duplicity and the falsehood of his son, and he submitted to what he felt to be the divine will.
This maintenance of his faith must have been attended, indeed, with many an inward struggle, for the appeal of Esau was of the most touching and piercing nature. "He cried with an exceeding great and bitter cry, Bless me, even me also, O my father." And, again, after complaining of his brother's present treachery and former spoliation, he says, "Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?" And a third time, in answer to Isaac's affectionate remonstrance, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants, and with corn and wine have I sustained him, and what shall I now do unto thee, my son?"
Esau reiterated his affecting supplication, "Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father, and he lift up his voice, and wept." I would confi
dently ask any one in this assembly, but still more confidently would I ask any parent here, if he can conceive any other feeling strong enough to uphold the patriarch under solicitations so adapted to penetrate to his very inmost heart, but the influence of religion. Faith, and faith alone, could have prevented him from giving full vent to his excited affections, and pouring such a torrent of execration upon him who had thus deceived him, as would have more than counterbalanced the blessing he had uttered. Isaac believed that the covenant made with Abraham had accompanied the blessing pronounced, and had been transferred to Jacob: and he felt it impossible to recall it.
He did, however, bless Esau, but in terms of inferior efficacy to those which he had addressed to Jacob. He predicted to him and his posterity a sufficient abundance of earthly possessions, but announced that they should be addicted to violence-living by the sword (as the Edomites subsequently did), but in a state of subjection to the descendants of Jacob; adding, however, that "they should one day break that yoke from off their neck," as they actually did in the reign of Jehoram, when, as we read, the Edomites revolted from under the dominion of Judah, and made themselves a king, thus fulfilling the prophecy 900 years after it had been delivered.
Thus, then, my brethren, does it appear, that by "faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come." And should not this fact, thus elucidated and corroberated, draw us nearer to our GOD, and induce us to cultivate that holy feeling of faith, without which it is impossible to please him. We are not called to resist any natural affections, but to take upon us "a yoke that is easy, and a burthen that is light."
lieve in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." This is our direction-this is the faith that we must exercise. By obeying it in its evident meaning and applicationshowing our faith by our works, and looking to Jesus as the author and finisher of it-we may so run our earthly career, as to be admitted to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in that heavenly kingdom to which all their human frailties and transgressions having been remitted and blotted out-they have been exalted through that Redeemer, in whose future coming they believed and trusted, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us now conclude with some reflections which the subject suggests.
Do we not perceive, both in Jacob and Esau, an anxious desire to secure a father's blessing? Let those of us who still have parents, be led to feel the same anxiety, and endeavour to gain that object; being assured that no earthly feeling will tend more to cheer us through life and console us in death, than the thought that we were blessed by the lips-more especially should it be by the dying lips -of those who gave us birth. And to you, my younger brethren of this Institution, let me suggest, that you should endeavour to obtain the favour and the approbation of your guardians and protectors here, who have been given to you by a gracious providence, to discharge toward you the parental duties. Be assured that their favour and approbation, should you succeed in obtaining it, will be the best reward next to that of your heavenly father, of all your diligence and good conduct, and will supply you with many a happy thought in your progress through life.
Do we wonder at the existence of so much duplicity in persons, connected immediately with the cove
nant of grace, as were Rebekah and Jacob? Let us remember that they lived in primitive times, when a rudeness of moral, as well as social feeling prevailed, which is comparatively unknown to us through the combined influence of Christianity and civilization.
Do we wonder that the Scripture relates such revolting scenes to us? Let us consider that the treachery of Jacob and Rebekah was necessary to be told, as being the method in which it was brought about, that the covenant of promise should be fulfilled in the lineage of Jacob:-and that when told, it is merely related with the simplicity of truth, and with not a single word that can lead us to suppose that the deceit should be viewed with any other feeling than that of abhorrence. Is there any practical encouragement to domestic intrigue, and mutual deception in families to be drawn from this history? No; but a fearful lesson to a very opposite tendency, is deducible. For what was the consequence to Jacob himself of his conduct on this occasion? He was obliged to fly from the presence of his justly offended brother, and live an exile in a foreign land, lest he should perish by the hand of him whom he had injured. In that scene of his banishment, he had to endure a long and degrading servitude, in the course of which he probably thought much and deeply of the conduct which he had pursued towards his brother; and as we may judge from his subsequent humiliation to him, when they met, he sincerely repented of the offence that he had given him. And what shall we say of Rebekah? She suffered the fate due to mothers who sow enmity between their children ;-She was doomed to hear the one denouncing vengeance against the other, as