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loved Jacob, and therefore contrived to give him the birthright. There is no intimation that, from honouring the divine intentions, she endeavoured to fulfil them. Even had this been true, it would not justify her. She should have left to the Lord the means of effecting his own sovereign purposes. David knew that he was to be king in the place of Saul, yet David would not on that account destroy or injure the Lord's anointed even when he was in his power, and when his own life was in the greatest danger from the king of Israel.
Many persons think that the account of this transaction is irrational and incredible. How could Esau be at the point of death by hunger in his father's residence? But this objection is grounded on a supposition that is not true. It is not in evidence, and therefore need not be believed, that the two brothers were now in their father's usual place of abode. On the contrary, there is sufficient evidence that this was not the case. Jacob, we are told, was a plain man, dwelling in tents. This implies that he had his residence at different places, as his business of a shepherd required. Like the sons of Jacob, who were living at a distance from their father, when he sent Joseph to visit them, Jacob himself, in the same occupation, was obliged to live at a distance from his father. Esau, wherever he usually resided, was out in the chase, and, on his return, called at the tent of his brother Jacob. This circumstance occasioned the temptation by which Esau lost his birthright,
and Jacob forfeited his integrity; but by which God fulfilled his sovereign will.
Were this a mere possibility, it is sufficient to answer the objection, but that it is a fact is in evidence from the passage itself. When Esau had finished eating and drinking, he "rose up and went his way." Does not this imply, that his usual place of residence was elsewhere? Rashness and incredulity often start objections, which, instead of manifesting uncommon perspicacity, owe their origin to ignorance and want of attention.
THE ANNOYANCES OF THE MAN OF GOD BY THE WORLD, UNDER THE CONTROL OF PROVIDENCE.-Gen. xxvi. 22.
In all ages and in all countries God's people are strangers and pilgrims, and will be subject to ill treatment under the very best forms of government. There are innumerable ways in which they may be annoyed by their enemies, beyond redress from the best system of laws under the best administrators. Their comfort is, that Divine Providence overrules and regulates the extent of mischief which his wisdom may see meet to permit their enemies to inflict on them. The wrath of man he will make to praise him; and whatever of this wrath is not for his glory and the good of his people, he will restrain. He suffered the herdsmen of Gerar to strive with the servants of Isaac for the wells which the latter had dug. They did so repeatedly. This was necessary
in the typical people, and it served to manifest the peaceable character of Isaac. But, though there is no end to the unreasonableness of men, there is a limit to the extent in which Divine Providence will suffer it to manifest itself against his people. At the digging of the third well, the Philistines ceased to strive. And that this was not accidental, or unrelated to Providence, we know from the pious acknowledgment of Isaac on the occasion. "And he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the Lord hath made room for us." A man of the world-a philosopher, would see nothing here but mere accident, without any connexion with Providence. But the man of God ascribes the ceasing of the annoyance of his enemies to the overruling power of the Ruler of the world. What a consolation to the Christian to reflect on this fact!
is in safety while he is on all sides encircled by those who hate him. He lies down in the midst of bears and lions, yet he rises in tranquillity and peace. Were it not for Divine Providence, the people of God, who, compared with the world, are but a handful, would be extirpated utterly from the earth. They are like the family of Abraham and Isaac sojourning as strangers among the inhabitants of Canaan. But Abraham and Isaac were as safe, when they sojourned in Canaan as strangers, as were Solomon and David when they ruled over all the nations as far as the river Euphrates. Providence is the inheritance of his people.
TRANSFERENCE OF THE BLESSING TO JACOB.
How many providential circumstances are linked into one chain, to confer the blessing of his father on Jacob? Among these we may recognise the blindness of Isaac. Had he not been afflicted with great dimness of sight, the scheme by which Jacob succeeded could never have taken place. We have no account of any such blindness in Abraham, when he had arrived at a much greater age. Why did not God prevent Jacob's sin, by continuing strength of eye-sight to his father? Why did a Sovereign Providence make way for this scheme, by inflicting blindness on Isaac ? God did not approve this scheme, and yet in his sovereignty it fulfilled his purpose. Who can comprehend this mystery? Who can fathom the depth of this wisdom? Silence, ye prating philosophers! You cannot by searching find out God. Your line cannot measure his conduct.
Another providential circumstance in this matter is, that Isaac, though eminently a man of God, and, by divine revelation, sufficiently informed of God's preference of Jacob, yet attended not to this intimation, so as to ask consent of the Lord before he acted. He either remained ignorant of what he might have known, or from partiality neglected to attend to it. The ignorance of the Lord's people often fulfils the purposes of his will, as well as their knowledge. Yet, in all such cases, it is to their
guilt and injury. Isaac did not add to his own happiness, or to that of his family, by his inattention to the revelation of the divine will with respect to his two sons. It would have been much better for all parties that he had asked counsel at the mouth of the Lord, before he had attempted to transfer the blessing. His intention did not succeed, and he added to the guilt of Esau, by laying before him the occasion of intentional murder.
The coupling of the eating of the savoury meat with the conveying of the blessing, whether it was whim or wisdom, is another providential circumstance that was necessary as a foundation for the scheme of Jacob's mother. Had Isaac given the blessing without this previous step, the artifice of Rebekah could have had no place.
Another link in this chain is, that Rebekah overheard Isaac when he addressed Esau about bringing him the savoury meat from the field. Had she not heard this, her plot could not have been formed. What placed her within hearing at that particular time? Why did not Isaac use precaution, and whisper the matter to his son? The thing must be heard by Rebekah. The accident that placed her within hearing was a link in Providence.
As was observed before, in order to transfer the blessing to Jacob, it was necessary that he should be the favourite son of his mother. This is another link in the chain.
To the formation of this scheme, by which the blessing was transferred to Jacob, it was necessary