« ПретходнаНастави »
employing such mystical representation and brothers to live together in love as they expression to instruct men in the nature of might, and as, but for one or other of these prayer, and to enforce the obligation of it? disturbers of human quiet, they would do ! « To the end that we should pray always and Such scenes as that which now passed benot faint." Do we prevail in our applications tween Jacob and Esau ought to have been at the throne of grace? It is because our perpetual. But alas, it cannot be ! Esau heavenly Father is disposed to yield, and must return to his possession in Mount Seir stands out only to heighten our exertions, that very day; and Jacob pursue his journey and call forth our importunity. Have we to Canaan. The paternal roof must no more “ power with God, and prevail ?" Then cover their heads again at one time, nor the “ what is man who shall die, and the son of affectionate parents enjoy the supreme feliman who is a worm ?" Did Jacob sink and city of witnessing their reconciliation, and fail in the very moment of victory? We are of strengthening it by their blessing and just what God makes or permits us to be. their prayers. Let the lower ranks of man
Whatever were the real circumstances of kind rejoice, that a gracious Providence, in this extraordinary scene, it procured Jacob a withholding from them afluence, and station, new and an honourable name, which obliter- and distinction, has left them a blessing ated to his posterity, if not altogether to him- greater than all put together, friendship, and self, that less honourable appellation which the means of exercising and enjoying it. commemorated a little, though significant Parents, as ye love your children, and wish incident attending his birth, and which re- to have them near you, and to bless you with corded the infamy of his unfair dealings with a sight of their health and prosperity, be mohis father and brother; Jacob, the supplanter, derate in your views and efforts concerning is transformed into Israel, a prince with them. Prospects of ambition, or of avarice, God.
will of necessity banish them from your The vision of the Almighty is scarcely at sight, will separate them from each other, an end, when the interview with Esau takes will scatter them upon the face of the earth. place. And we are then fittest for every Jacob, by slow movements, as the delicate service, for every trial, when we have settled condition of part of his retinue required, admatters with Heaven. He who by a touch vances homewards in a south-west direction disjointed Jacob's thigh, could by a word from the ford of Penuel, on the south bank have scattered Esau's host. But behold a of the Jabbok, towards Jordan; and arrived greater miracle! By a simple act of his safe at the ford of Succoth. So called from sovereign will, he has in a moment changed the booths which he erected there, for a temEsau's heart. They meet, they converse, porary repose to himself and family, in the they love, as brothers ought to do. And “0 plains of Jordan, about twelve or fifteen how good and how pleasant it is for brethren miles from Penuel; ten miles south of the to dwell together in unity !” We apprehend sea of Galilee ; and five south of the Jabbok, a strife of fierce and angry looks, of reproach- where it runs into Jordan : a city afterwards ful words, of violence and blood. But how assigned by lot to the tribe of Gad. After joyful the disappointment! Behold a conten- resting at Succoth about a month, he protion of kindness, a blessed contest of affec- ceeds to travel from Jordan west and by tion; the honest, heart-melting triumph of south about thirty-five miles, and arrives in nature, the noble victory of goodness. Let peace and safety, according to the promise the proud and the resentful peruse, with care, and covenant of the God of Bethel, which this inimitable scene of tenderness, painted was ratified more than twenty years before, in colours so bright and so touching by the at Shechem, the city of Hamor, the Hivite; pencil of inspiration,* and say, whether it be of whom he bought a field, in the same place possible for any gratification of revenge, any where Abraham first pitched his tent upon depression of a ħated rival, any triumph of coming into Canaan. And there Jacob erectviolence and blood, to yield any thing that ed an altar, and dedicated it by the name of deserves the name of joy, compared with the El-Elohe-Israel, God, the God of Israel. sweet satisfaction which must have filled the Now this event happened in the year of the bosoms of this pair of brothers, burying ani- world two thousand two hundred and sixtymosity and discord in mutual endearments, six; before Christ, one thousand seven hunand expressions of good will. Ah, why dred and thirty-eight; after the flood, six should so many wretched brothers as there hundred and ten; from the peregrination of are of us, pass through a world in which Abraham, one hundred and eighty-three; there is so much unavoidable misery, es- before Jacob's descent into Egypt, thirtytranged from one another; or madly, wan- two; before the going out of the children of tonly, wickedly interrupt and disturb each Israel from Egypt, two hundred and fortyother's passage, by bitterness and wrath ! seven; and in the year of Jacob's life, nineWhat wretched things are wealth, and pomp, ty-eight; Isaac, his aged father, living then and state, and power, which will not permit at Beer-sheba, one hundred and fifty-seven * Gen. xxxiii. 4-15.
years old. And this naturally furnishes ano
ther resting place in the history of our pa- 1 heir of the promise, at Bethel, at Mahanaim, triarch.
lead our thoughts directly to the annunciaThe next Lecture, if God permit, will tion, the nativity, the temptation in the wilresume the subject, and carry it forward to derness, the agony in the garden, the resura conclusion. We detain you only for a mo- rection, the ascension, the second coming of ment or two, to suggest a few thoughts on our blessed Lord. The wrestling at Peniel, the analogy of Jacob and Christ, from this is a strong figurative description of the powportion of the Scripture history. How beau- erful and prevalent intercession of the Prince tifully and how exactly does the account with God, Messiah himself, whose language which Jacob gives of himself as a shepherd is not "Father, I beseech thee,” but “ Father, correspond to the character of the good I will.” Jacob's safe and happy return to Cashepherd who giveth his life for the sheep !" naan, and to his father's house, every enemy “This twenty years have I been with thee: being subdued either by fear or by love, acthy ewes and thy she-goats have not cast companied with two bands of sons and daughtheir young, and the rams of thy flock have ters, wherewith God had enriched him in I not eaten. That which was torn of beasts, the land where he was a stranger, and where I brought not unto thee: I bare the loss of he had been humbled, and oppressed,-prefiit. Of my hand didst thou require it, whe- gures, as has been suggested in a former disther stolen by day, or stolen by night. Thus course, the triumphant return of the great I was, in the day the drought consumed me, Captain of salvation, to his father's house and the frost by night, and my sleep depart- above, loaded with the spoils of principalities ed from mine eyes.
."* " And he said unto and powers: the power of hell vanquished him, my lord knoweth that the children are by force, an elect world redeemed and restender, and the flocks and herds with young cued by love." His right hand and his holy are with me: and if men should over-drive arm had gotten him the victory;" " he shall them one day, all the flock will die. Let my reign till he hath put all enemies under his lord, I pray thee, pass over before his ser- feet," "sing praises to his name, sing praise." vant; and I will lead on softly, according as “ Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led the cattle that goeth before me, and the child captivity captive, thou hast received gifts for dren be able to endure; until I come unto men: yea, for the rebellious also, that the my lord unto Seir." | “He shall feed his flock Lord God might dwell among them." Unto like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs him that loved us, and washed us from our with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, sins in his own blood, and hath made us and shall gently lead those that are with kings and priests unto God and his Father: young."1 Angels, thus ministering to the to him be glory and dominion for ever and
| Gen. xxxiii. 13, 14.
ever.”+ Amen. 1 Isa. xi. 11.
* Psalm lxviii. &
| Rev. i. 5, 6.
* Gen, xxxii. 38-40.
HISTORY OF JACOB.
And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children ; Joseph is not, and Simeon
is not, and ye will take Benjamin away : all these things are against me. And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again. And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befal him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.-GENESIS xlii. 36–38.
It is a pleasing and an useful employment | unlikely causes. There is no greater error to trace important events up to their sources; in conduct than to reckon certain actions reto mark the gradual progress of human af- lating to morals, trifling and insignificant. fairs; to observe the same persons at differ- When revolutions in private families, and in ent periods of their existence, and in differ-empires, are pursued up to the springs from ent situations; to discover on what delicate whence they flow, they are often found to hinges their fortunes have turned; and to commence in some little error, inadvertency, contemplate the wisdom, power, and good or folly, which, at the time, might have been ness of Divine Providence, in producing the despised or neglected. Just as mighty rivers greatest effects from the slightest and most | begin their course in some paltry, obscure
stream, which the peasant could dry up with remaining pledge of his Rachel's love, dethe sole of his foot. The past is intinitely manded and forced to be given up. What less perspicuous to the eye of human under- sorrow was ever like this sorrow? “This is standing, than the future is to divine intelli- the man who hath seen affliction by the rod gence. God“ seeth the end from the begin- of his wrath.” And does all a partial mother's ning, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I fondness; do all a father's blessings, wishes, will fultil all my pleasure.” The periods and prayers; do all the promises and predicwhich make the most brilliant figure in the tions of Heaven issue in this? “If in this page of history, were periods of anxiety and life only there were hope," who so miserable trouble to the men and the nations who then as God's dearest children? Whose lot is so figured on the scene. A life of many inci- much to be deplored as that of the son of dents is a life of much distress. When the Isaac? writer has got a great deal to relate, the per- Jacob, after an absence of more than twenson whose life is recorded has had a great ty years, has returned to the land of his nadeal to suffer.
tivity. A guardian Providence has protected Much more is written of Jacob than of any and delivered him from his avowed enemies, other of the patriarchs. Alas! it is only say- from Laban, and from Esau: but the most ing that his miseries were much more nu- dangerous enemies of his repose are still merous and severe. In a life shorter than nearer to him, they “are those of his own his father's by thirty-three years, calamity so house.” He has purchased an estate, he has crowded upon calamity, that it seems extend-spread his tent, he has erected his altar; ed to the utmost stretch of even antediluvian "his mountain stands strong," what can longevity. What hour of his mature age is move him? From what slight beginnings, free from pain and sorrow? Not one! In do great events arise! Dinah the daughter what region does he find repose? No where. of Jacob, prompted by female vanity, curiosiCanaan, Haran, Egypt, are to him almost ty, or some other motive equally deserving equally inclement. As a son, a servant, an blame, ventures, unattended, beyond the husband, a father; in youth, in manhood, in verge of the paternal superintendence and old age; he is unremittingly afflicted. And protection, and falls into danger and shame. no sooner is one difficulty surmounted, one She went out, says the scripture, " to see wo past, than another and a greater over the daughters of the land.” Josephus affirms, takes him. Formerly he had youthful blood that she was attracted by the celebration of and spirits to encounter and to endure the a great public festival, according to the manills of life. Hope still cheered the heart, and ners of the country. Her youth, innocence, scattered the cloud. But now, behold the and inexperience inspire confidence; novelty hoary head sinking with sorrow to the grave; awakens curiosity; beauty tempts, opportuthe spirit oppressed, overwhelmed, with a nity favours, and virtue is lost. From the sea of trouble. Keen recollection summons first transgression, down to this day, female up the ghosts of former afflictions, and past disgrace and ruin have begun in the gratifijoys recur only to remind him that they are cation of an immoderate desire to see, and to gone for ever; and black despair obscures, know, some new thing; from an inclination excludes the prospect of good to come. What to exhibit themselves, and to observe others. heart is not wrung, at hearing a poor old One daughter of Israel is much more likely man closing the bitter recapitulation of his to be corrupted by communication with many misfortunes, in the words I have read, “ All, daughters of Canaan than they are to be imall these things are against me ?"
proved by the conversation of that one. There Perhaps the life of no other man affords a is much wisdom, my fair friends, in keeping like instance of accumulated distress. The far, very far within your bounds. There is mournful detail of this evening will present, danger, great danger, in advancing to the collected within the compass of not many utınost limit of liberty and virtue. For, the months, a series of the heaviest afflictions extreme boundary of virtue is also the exthat ever man endured; and all springing up treme boundary of vice; and she who goes out of objects, in which the heart naturally every length she lawfully may, is but half a seeks and expects to find delight. An only step from going farther than she ought, or daughter dishonoured-his eldest hope stain- perhaps than she intended. ed with incest-Simeon and Levi polluted Desire is commonly extinguished by grawith innocent blood—Judah joined in mar- tification; but it is also sometimes inflamed riage to a woman of Canaan, and a father by by it. And so it was with Shechem. The his own daughter-in-law Joseph torn in first disorder of his passion and its effects, pieces by wild beasts—his beloved Rachel are not more to his shame, than the reparalost in childbirth-his venerable father re- tion which he intended and attempted, is to moved from him in the course of nature, his honour. Indeed, if we except the leading the miserable wreck and remains of his fami- step in this transaction, the whole proceedly ready to perish with famine—Simeon a ing on the part of the young prince is noble prisoner in Egypt,-and Benjamin, the only and generous to a high degree; and loudly
reproves and strikingly exposes the cool, the “Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; cruel, remorseless seducers of a Christian and their wrath, for it was cruel; I will diage, and of a civilized country.
vide them in Jacob, and scatter them in IsThe unhappy father receives the news of rael."* We no where meet with an instance his daughter's dishonour with silent sorrow. of more savage, indiscriminating barbarity. And how often does he wish in the sequel, For the offence of one, a whole nation is that he had forever buried his grief in his mercilessly cut off, and rapine closes the own heart? Hamor readily adopts the views scene of blood. For they plundered the city, of his son, disdains not the alliance of a shep- and carried off the wretched women captive herd, courts Dinah, though humbled, with whose husbands they had murdered. Horrid, all the respect due to a princess, and all the infernal passion! And how was Dinah's munificence becoming one who was himself honour repaired by this? And these simple, a sovereign. Those who are fathers, who easy, believing men, these harmless, unofhave daughters for whom they feel, or for fending women, what had they done? whom they fear, will judge of Jacob's satis- Daughters of Canaan, dearly have ye bought faction at this proposal. To have the wound the favour of a visit from Jacob's daughter. which had been made in the fond paternal Idle and unhallowed was the opening of the heart, instantly closed up; the stain cast scene, and dreadful has the conclusion been. upon his name, wiped clean away; his dar- I should not have been surprised to hear of ling child's peace and reputation restored; a confederacy among all the neighbouring an honourable alliance formed with a weal- states, to exterminate such a band of robbers thy, virtuous, and generous prince; a whole and murderers from the face of the earth. people proselyted from idols to the God of Jacob is justly alarmed with the apprehenIsrael. "How many sources of exquisite sa-sion of this, and, warned of God, removes tisfaction! Is the black cloud over Jacob's from the neighbourhood of Shechem to Bethhead going for once to descend in refreshing el; a spot that brought to his recollection, drops, is it going for once to burst, and dis- calmer, happier days—when he was flying perse itself into calmness and serenity ? Alas, indeed from his country, without wealth, alas! the tempest is only gathering thicker without a friend; but free also from the anxaround him; and dreadful must the discharge iety, vexation, and care, which an increased of it be. I shudder as I proceed.
family and abounding wealth have brought Simeon and Levi, two brothers german of upon him. How much better is it to go childDinah, and who, on that account, think them-less, than have children to be the grief and selves peculiarly concerned in the vindica- plague of a man's heart? tion of their sister's honour, affect to receive Being arrived at Bethel, where he had Shechem's overtures with complacency.- been blessed with the visions of the Almighty They have no scruples but what arise from on his way to Padan-aram, he deems it a religion. Let these be removed, and the proper time and place to purge his family of way is cleared at once. Deep, designing, every vestige of idolatry. It is no easy matdissembling villains! The ordinance of God ter to live in an idolatrous, or irreligious is in their mouths, the malice of the devil country, without losing a sense of religion, lies brooding in their hearts. They recom- or acquiring a wrong one. This is one of mend a sacrament, and they are preparing a the great evils which attend travelling into sacrifice, a horrid human sacrifice, of many distant lands. Our young men who reside victims.
long abroad, whatever else they bring back There is not a more singular fact in all to their native country, generally drop by history, than the ready compliance of the the way the pious principles which were inwhole inhabitants of Shechem with the pro-stilled into them in their youth. Some very posal of changing their religion, and of re-nearly related to Jacob, I am afraid, had a ceiving, at so late a period in life, the pain- violent hankering after the gods beyond the ful sign of circumcision. Great must have flood. Why else did Rachel steal away the been the authority which Hamor had over images which were her father's? However them, or great the affection which they bore that may be, Jacob now disposes of them in him. Unhappy man! he practised a little a proper manner, and buries every shred that deceit in stating the case to his people, but could minister to idolatry, under the oak that was himself much more grossly deceived. was by Shechem. The conduct of Jacob's And I greatly question whether he had pre-sons had, of necessity, awakened a hostile vailed, had not the temptation of Jacob's cat- spirit in the country against him, which, had tle and other substance, been held out as a it not been providentially restrained, must motive to obtain their consent. Comply how- have proved fatal to him. But “ the terror ever they did—and it proved fatal to them. of God was upon the cities that were round For on the third day, the two sons of Jacob about them, and they did not pursue after the already mentioned attended probably by a sons of Jacob.”+ band of their friends and servants, rushed About this time, a breach was made in the upon them and put them all to the sword. *Gen. xlix. 7.
Gen. xxxv. 5.
family by the death of Deborah, Rebekah's, think of, and “such as is not so much as nurse; the threatening and fore-runner of a named among the Gentiles;" a crime which much heavier stroke. For, just after they blended the guilt and shame of another with had left Bethel, as he was on his way finally his own; which could not make the usual to join his father with all his family, with a apologies of surprise, temptation, or passion heart exulting, no doubt, in the prospect of for itself
. But let us hasten from it. We presenting to his venerable parents the wives can sit and weep awhile upon the grave of and children which God had given him; Rachel; but from the incestuous couch of Rachel, his much-loved Rachel, is suddenly Reuben, imagination flies away with horror taken in labour by the way side, and dies, and disgust. What a dreadfully licentious, after bearing another son. Unhappy woman! irregular, and disorderly family, is the family She falls a victim to what she had coveted of pious Jacob! Each of his sons is worse so earnestly. “Give me children else I die,” and more wicked than another. Accursed in her haste, in the bitterness of her heart, Laban, I see thy infernal avarice at the botshe exclaimed. She obtains her wish, and tom of all this disorder and wickedness! It was it proves fatal to her. God, a righteous God, that which first introduced a multiplicity of gives her children, and she dies. Resentment wives into Jacob's bosom. It was that which at her vehemence and impatience is lost in created and kept up jarring interests in his sorrow for her loss.
family; and gave birth to those unhallowed, The history does not expand itself here, disgraceful, head-strong passions, which disbut simply relates the fact. Some causes are turbed his peace, pierced his heart, and disinjured, not assisted, by a multiplicity of honoured his name. words. The feelings of the patriarch on this An affliction more in the order of nature, occasion are rather to be conceived than de- and whose certain and gradual approach scribed. Rachel early, constantly, tenderly must have prepared the heart to meet it, at loved; earned with long and severe servi- length overtakes him. After an absence of tude; endeared by knowledge and habit, and more than twenty years, he rejoins his aged rendered more important and valuable by father, now in his one hundred and sixtyfruitfulness, could not be lost without pain. third year, at Arbah, afterwards called HeIt was natural for the dying mother to think bron, “ the city where Abraham and Isaac soof perpetuating the memory of her mortal journed.” It does not appear whether Rebeangnish, by giving the son whom she brought kah yet lived, or not. If she did, what must into life at the expense of her own, the name have been her feelings at embracing her of Ben-oni, “the son of my sorrow.” It was long-lost, darling son; and at finding him so wise and pious in the surviving father, to abundantly increased in children and in preserve rather the memory of the benefit wealth ? Pure and perfect is the delight of received, than of the loss sustained; and by a grandmother, as she caresses the young the name of Benjamin, “the son of my right ones of a beloved child, the heirs and reprehand," to mark and record submission to, and sentatives of the husband of her youth, the trust in Providence, rather than seek to per- supporters of his name, prospects, and dignity. petuate his grief, by retaining the maternal In presenting his family to his father, Jacob appellation, which seemed to murmur at and must have been agitated by various and mixed to reflect upon the dispensations of the Al- emotions. It was natural for the old man to mighty. Dying in childbirth, it was found inquire minutely into the events of his son's necessary to bury her with greater expedi- life, during the tedious years of their separation than the removal of the corpse to the tion; into the character and qualities of his cave of Machpelah permitted; though there grandchildren; into the state of Jacob's worldthe precious dust of Sarah and of Abraham re- ly circumstances; much more, into the state posed. And, as it is happily ordered by na- of his mind as a believer, and the heir of the ture, Jacob amuses, soothes, and spends his promise. The answer to these parental ingrief, which might otherwise have oppressed quiries must of necessity have awaked in the and spent him, in erecting a monument to bosom of the wretched sufferer ten thousand Rachel's memory. Thus, what the heart in melancholy and painful sensations; and torn the first paroxysms of its anguish, intends open afresh those wounds which the lenient as the means of rendering grief lasting or hand of time had begun to close up. The continual, gradually, imperceptibly, and most hardships endured in Padan-aram; the sevegraciously extinguishes it altogether. rity, churlishness, and deceit of Laban, would
While this wound was still bleeding, the rise again to view. And almost every child, patriarch's heart is pierced through with an- as he presented them one by one to his sire, other stroke, if not so acute, perhaps more must have suggested some mortifying and overwhelming. Reuben, his eldest hope, distressful circumstance to wring his heart
. raised and distinguished by Providence, placed Dinah, not in the bloom and dignity of virgin in the foremost rank among many brethren, innocence, but humbled and dishonoured, degrades and dishonours himself by the com- robbed of that which makes youth lovely, Inission of a crime which modesty blushes to land age respected— Simeon and Levi, her