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son's venison, that his soul may bless me. I hear him affirm, I am thy son, thy first-born son, Esau. I hear his exceeding great, and bitter cry, Bless mė, even me also, O my father. How mildly does he question, entreat, and remonstrate, Is he not rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birth-right; and, behold now, he hath taken away my blessing ! Hast thou not reserved a blessing for nie ? Hast thou but one blessing ? Bless me, even me also, O my father. I hear his supplicating voice, and I seem to mingle my tears with those of the disappointed young man.
But turning from Esau and Jacob as human beings, and listening to Isaac, who, after the detection of the fraud, confirms the blessing, I behold the finger of my God, and regard these Hebrew lads as representing without, perhaps, their own knowledge, the dealings of God with man.
These twin brothers do indeed strikingly develope the Creator's plan and purpose, respecting the whole of the human family. Had Jacob, in every instance respecting the father, brother, and the son, acted up to the virtues which might have been exhibited in these characters, and it had then been said, Jacob have I loved ; had Esau exemplified the reverse of every thing laudible and good, and it had then been said, Esau have I hated, we should have had reason to suppose, virtuous persons exclusively objects of divine favour, that he loved the righteous because they first loved him, and that he hated the sinner as much as he hates sin. But, this view not corresponding with the tenor of scripture testimony, is rejected, and it is generally conceded, that these twin brothers are held up as figures of the two covenants, works and grace, law and gospel. The elder willed, and was ready to execute, but he is set aside, while his undeserving brother, who neither willed nor executed, but by fraud obtained a blessing, where he himself conceived he merited a curse rather than a blessing, is accepted! Thus it becomes plain, that the grand design of the sacred historian, was to stain the pride of all flesh, to show God as the sinner's friend, and that, although the sinner was the object of his never-failing affection, yet that sin was the object of his never-failing abhorrence.
Great and good men, (it will always be remembered when I speak of good, I speak as a human being,) literary characters and scriptuarians unite to acknowledge, that the word hate as applied to Esau, orindeed to any thing that God hath made, never intended
what we intend by this vindictive and threatening term. It simply expresses a preference, an election of the one rather than the other; the election hath obtained the grace. God prefers the corenant of grace, to the covenant of works ; in other words, he prefers the grace exhibited in the bestowment of the perfect righteousness, wrought out by the Redeemer, to the wood, hay, and stubble, which we are disposed to render in, as silver and gold. If the terms hate and hatred, were of such fatal and deadly import in scripture language, as we sometimes conceive them, there are some passages of holy writ, which could not fail to excite our utmost surprise. Jacob is said to have hated Leah, yet she bore him many children, and they appear to have lived upon friendly terms; we therefore qualify, the term and say, that Rachel was preferred to Leah.' Our Saviour, Luke xiv. 26, decisively says, “ If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Will it enter into the heart of any individual to conceive, that this divine moralist, this God-man, this celestial philanthropist, should inculcate hatred in the malignant sense of the word, and that he should insist on the dominion of this baleful passion, as a requisite qualification for his disciples. Let us beware of blasphemy. Our Redeemer undoubtedly meant that every consideration must yield to him, that earthly ties must be nothing in comparison with our attachment to our heavenly home, to the Saviour of the world, and the truth he taught.
Thus did the Deity yield strong and decided preference to Jacob, to the covenant of grace; and it is particularly observed, that Jacob and Esau, were as the children of Isaac and Rebekah, without the shadow of a claim, mere nonentities, ere yet they had done good or evil, the figures were selected and decided as to their import. Thus, says the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans, ix, 11, “ For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth. It was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger."
Hence it is plain, God does not exhibit himself as partial to the one, as virtuous, or as hating the other, as vicious. Had this been the design of the faithful Creator, different characters would have been drawn, both of the one and the other. But it is said, these characters exemplify the sovereign power of the Almighty,
that he receiveth whom he will, and rejecteth whom he will. As far as this observation involves the doctrine of election we say, yea, with our whole hearts ; but if it points to perdition we say, nay, nay, and our reason is, it comports not with the nature of God, nor with the assurance he hath given us in his most holy word. What end it can answer, to describe God as a cruel despot, creating beings to dwell in never ending misery, is not so plain, I was going to say, it was painting the Almighty in the same colours in which historians dip their pencil, when they describe the Neroes of their page; but these Roman murderers, were not so bad, inasmuch as they did not fashion the people of Rome, nor breathe into them the breath of life.
One thing is certain, there are who while encompassed with darkness, most eagerly catch at any thing that looks with an unfriendly aspect upon the creature, they convert the most precious truths into denunciations of wrath. Misery and destruction are in their paths; they hesitate not to consign millions of human beings to everlasting perdition, and rather than lose the felicity of seeing the purchase of the Redeemer's blood, the object of his inveterate hatred, they will make God himself the violator of his own law, of his promise, nay, of his oath. But as many as are taught of God will know, and knowing they will believe, that God is love, that he hateth nothing which he hath made : that God is love, and that in him there is no hatred at all, that God is light, and that in him there is no darkness at all,
The example produced in this oft cited passage, is, it must be confessed, rather unfortunate, for really Esau, the eldest son, supposed to be the object of God's hatred, was, in fact, greatly blessed. His conduct on meeting a brother, by whom he had been so grossly injured, evinced the excellency of his character and disposition. While it is notorious that the actions of Jacob, many of those which are recorded, are highly exceptionable. Passing over the deceit' and falsehood by which he obtained the blessing, if we follow him to the house of his father-in-law, we shall find him in the practice of low cunning, and that unwarrantable art by which he dispossessed Laban of a very large part of his property, and his departure from the paternal dwelling is worthy of his deportment, while a resident in an abode where he had been sò astonishingly en. riched. Were any man in the present day, to act such a part as was performed by Jacob, what would be the opinion of religious
professors, respecting so atrocious an offender? Would they not consider him as black with crimes? The truth is, Jacob most expressively figured the race which he was designed to represent; he asked in the name, he assumed both thé robe and name, and lie stood before Isaac as the very identical Esau, and it was then, and not till then, he received the blessing.
Christ Jesus and the children of men, are, in fact, what these twin brothers were in figure, for Christ is the head of every man ; in consequence of his mysterious union with humanity, the race of Adam are actually the members of that body, of which he, Christ Jesus, is the head; and that Christ hath tasted death for us, is the matter of our justification and redemption before God, and it is putting on the Lord Jesus, assuming the robe of his complete righteousness, which gives us that confidence, that consciousness, the result of which is salvation, complete exemption from every soul-appalling, soul-condemning, soul-damning apprehension. In other words, he who believes is saved, and he who believeth not is damned. Thus are we taught to anticipate the glorious era, when all shall be taught of God, and when consequently, all shall believe.
We have said, and we repeat, that we have no objection to the sovereignty of God. All power in the hands of a Being, who is perfect in goodness,.in mercy, in truth, and in justice, must issue in the final felicity of the creature, whom his sovereign word commanded into existence. We are willing to acknowledge that the distinction between Jacob and Esau, was made before they were born, and consequently, before they had done either good or evil. We are willing that God should perform all his pleasure, both in heaven and on earth. We are willing that he should dispose of his creatures precisely according to his sovereign purpose ; and we confidently believe, that all his purposes will issue in eventual good. We are sensible, and we acknowledge, that Moses and Pharaoh are both equally the workmanship of God.
One was ordained an oppressor of the race of Abraham, the other was destined to bring them out of bondage. Many of the children of God, have conceived that Pharaoh was raised up for no other purpose than to throw him down with the greater vengeance! but the sentiments of the sacred writers do not appear to correspond with this idea. "The Apostle in his Epistle to the Romans, ix. 17, speaketh decidedly :
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« For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.”
Thus, Paul believed the design of God, in raising up Pharaoh, was for the purpose of making his power known, and his name great in all the earth. And it is evident that Moses was raised up with the self-same view. And if we consider God as hardening the heart of Pharaoh, and stimulating the tardy resolution of Moses, who appeared sufficiently bold in his opposition to his Maker, we shall be ready to ask, in what consisted the mighty difference? As men, it is not surely so very apparent; but the one was a type of the grand adversary, and the other of him who delivered the chil. dren of men, from worse than Egyptian bondage.
Moses, although perhaps, the meekest among the sons of men, yet deviates capitally from the very virtue for which he was famed ! See him under the influence of prejudice in favour of his own countryman, without even the shadow of investigation, so exceedingly provoked, 'as to slay the Egyptian who fought with the Hebrew youth; for aught we know, the son of Israel might have been the aggressor. It does not appear that he asked a single question ; his only care was to be certain that no eye beheld, and to conceal the victim of his fury beneath the sand, which so fortunately presented. He appears more just on the ensuing day, when two men of the Hebrews strove together, and he adopted the cause of the injured. The following questions are pertinent : “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? Intendest thou to kill ine, as thou killedst the Egyptian?” This was sufficient; the discovery was made; one of his own countrymen had betrayed him, and Egypt was no longer a place of safety for Moses. He fled, fled his country for murder!!!
Why was this circumstance recorded ? I presume it would not have been recorded, had the sacred volume been a human production, written by an author, determined at all events to celebrate the praise of the hero of his narration. But truth being the object of the inspired penman, and the design of God to stain the glory of the creature, and illustrate the character of the Creator, occurrences are noted precisely as they took place.
Thus the believer, even in the present moment, acknowledges tvhat every tongue shall ultimately confess : That God alone is holy, just, and good. But let it never be forgotten, that God is the