Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

In what manner this answered his expectations, we find from his own pathetick remonstrance to Laban, when he had pursued him seven days journey, and overtook him on Mount Gilead. I see him in the door of the tent, with the calm courage which innocence gives the oppressed, thus remonstrating to his father-in-law upon the cruelty of his treatmenti

" These twenty years that I have been thee, « thy ewes have not cast their young; and the rams “ of thy flock have I not eaten.. That which was 6.torn of beasts I brought not unto thee ; I bare the « loss of it ;-what was stolen by day, or stolen by “night, of my hands didst thou require it. Thus I

was : in the day the drought consumed me, and " the frost by night; and my sleep departed from

my eyes. Thus have I been twenty years in thy " house :-I served thee fourteen years for thy two

daughters, and six years for thy cattle ; and thou « hast changed my wages ten times.”

Scarce had he recovered from these evils, when the ill conduct and vices of his children wound his soul to death.-Reuben proves incestuous ;-Judah adulterous ;-his daughter Dinah is dishonoured ;Simeon and Levi dishonour themselves by treachery ;-two of his grandchildren are stricken with sud. den death ;-Rachel, his beloved wife, perishes, and in circumstances which imbitler'd his loss ;-his son Joseph, a most promising youth, is torn from him by the envy of his brethren ;-and, to close all, himself driven by famine, in his old age, to die amongst the Egyptians ;-a people who held it an abomination to eat bread with him. Unhappy pa. triarch! well might he say, ' That few and evil had

been his days :' the answer, indeed, was extend. ed beyond the monarch's inquiry, which was simi ply his age :—but how could he look back upon the days of his pilgrimage, without thinking of the sorrows which those days had brought along with them? all that was more in the answer than in the demand, was the overflowings of a heart ready to bleed afresh at the recollection of what had befallen.

Unwillingly does the mind digest the evils prepared for it by others ;--for those we prepare ourselves-we eat but the fruit which we have planted and watered :-a shattered fortune,-a 'shattered frame, so we have but the satisfaction of shattering them ourselves, pass natural enough into the habit, and by the ease with which they are both done, they sare the spectator a world of pity : but for those like Jacob's, brought upon him by the hands from which he looked for all his comforts, the avarice of a parent-the unkindness of a relation,—the ingratitude of a child,—they are evils which leave a scar :-besides, as they hang over the heads of all, and therefore may fall upon any,-every

looker-on has an interest in the tragedy ;-but then we are apt to interest ourselves no otherwise than merely as the incidents themselves strike our passions, without carrying the lesson further.-In a word, we realize nothing :-we sigh,—we wipe away the tear,--and there ends the story of misery, and the moral with it.

Let us try to do better with this. To begin with the bad bias which gave the whole turn to the patriarch's life,-parental partiality,-or parental injustice,-it matters not by what title it stands distinguished,-'tis that by which Rebekah planted a

dagger in Esau's breast-and an eternal terror with it in her own, lest she should live to be deprived of them both in one day :-and trust me, dear christians, wherever that equal balance of kindness and love, which children look up to you for as their natural right, is no longer maintained, there will dag. gers ever be planted ; " the son shall (literally] be 6 set at variance against his father, and the daugh“ ter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law

against her mother-in-law ;-and a man's foes shall be they of his own household.”

It was an excellent ordinance, as well of domestick policy as of equity, which Moses gave upon this head, in the 21st of Deuteronomy.

" If a man have two wives, one beloved and one “ hated, and they have born him children, both the « beloved and the hated ; and if the first-born son o be hers that was hated, then it shall be, when he 66 maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, " that he may not make the son of the beloved first« born, before the son of the hated which is indeed 56 the first-born ;-but he shall acknowledge the son 66 of the haled for first-born, by giving him a double " portion of all that he hath.” The evil was well fenced against ;-for 'tis one of those which steals in upon the heart with the affections, and courts the parent under so sweet a form, that thousands have , been betrayed by the very virtues which should have preserved them. Nature tells the parent, there can be no error on the side of affection ;-but we forget, when nature pleads for one, she pleads for every child alike;-and, why is not her voice to be heard ? Solomon says, “ Oppression will make a wise man “mad." What will it do then to a tender and ingen

uous heart which feels itself neglected,—too full of reverence for the author of its wrongs to complain ? -See, it sits down in silence, robbed by discouragements of all its natural powers to please,,born to see others loaded with caresses ;-in soine uncheery. corner it nourishes its discontent--and with a weight upon its spirits, which'its little stock of fortitude is not able to withstand it droops, and pines away.-Sad victim of caprice !

We are unavoidably led here into a reflection upon Jacob's conduct in regard to his son Joseph, which no way corresponded with the lesson of wis-" dom which the miseries of his own family might have taught him, surely his eyes had seen sorrow sufficient on that score, to have taken warning; and yet we find, that he fell into the same snare of partiality to that child in his old age, which his mother' Rebekah had shewn to him in hers;-—" for Israel “ loved Joseph more than all his children, because “ he was the son of his old age ; and he made him

a coat of many colours."-0 Israel ! where was that prophetick spirit which darted itself into future times, and told each tribe what was to be its fate?..

-Where was it fled, that it could not aid thee to look so little a way forwards, as tu behold “ this coat of many colours" stained with blood ? Why. were the tender emotions of a parent's anguish bid from thy eyes ?-and, why is every thing ?-but that it pleases Heaven to give us no more light in our way than will leave virtue in possession of its recoinpense.

-Grant me, gracious God, to go cheerfully on the road which thou hast marked out !- wish it neither more wide nor more smooth :- continue the

:

$

light of this dim taper thou hast put into my hands :
- I will kneel upon the ground seven times a day,
to seek the best track I can with it ;-and having
done that, I will trust myself and the issue of my
journey to thee, who art the Fountain of joy,-and
will sing songs of comfort as I go along !

Let us proceed to the second great occurrence in
the patriarch's life,—The imposition of a wife upon
him, which he neither bargain’d for nor loved.-
66 And it came to pass in the morning, behold it was
“ Leah! And he said unto Laban, What is this that
66 thou hast done unto me ? Did I not serve thee for
6 Rachel ? Wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?"

This, indeed, is out of the system of all conjugal impositions now, but the moral of it is still good : and the abuse, with the same complaint of Jacob's upon it, will ever be repeated, so long as art and artifice are so busy as they are in these affairs.

Listen, I pray you, to the stories of the disappointed in marriage !-collect all their complaints :

-hear their mutual reproaches : Upon what fatal hinge do the greatest part of them turn ?--' They 6 were mistaken in the person.'-Some disguise, either of body or mind, is seen through in the first domestick scuffle ;-some fair ornament,-perhaps the very one that won the heart ;-"the ornament o of a meek and quiet spirit,” falls off." It is not " the Rachel for whom I have served :- Why hast " thou then beguiled me !"

Be open,—be honest :-give yourself for what you are ; conceal nothing,--varnish nothing ;-and if these fair weapons will not do,-better not con quer at all than conquer for a day.--When the night is passed, 'twill ever be the same story :-—" And it

came to pass, behold it was Leah !"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »