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as individuals (like the rest of the human race) to the exercise of their own free will, both in respect to faith and moral actions: we will therefore, for the present suspend the farther consideration of the Divine ordinance in respect to the predestination of one people to suftremacy, and the other to subjection, since we find that it was the business of an Ahostle", not of the Jewish hirtorian, to vindicate the justice of God in this particular. Moses describes the conduct of the different parties concerned in this transaction, as merely the result of human inclinations, uncontrouled by Divine flower, so, far as it related to their own persons. It will appear, in a following part of this history, that Isaac lived for a number of years after the event which, is here recorded ; but when he found the infirmities of age increasing upon him, and felt a sensible decay of his faculties, it was very natural for him to fear that his end was approaching. Esau seems to have made it one of the pleasures of his. life to shew his affection for his father, by procuring venison, and dressing it for him in a manner agreeable to, his palate. Without imputing luxury to Isaac, we may conceive that he took particular delight in eating of this. dish; for every parent knows, that the dutiful attention. of a child can give a value to the most trifling services. Jacob who was naturally of a very timid disposition, observing the great ascendancy which, his brother had: gained over his father, attached himself, as we find, more particularly to his mother; and each parent indulged a partiality, which inclined them respectively to promote the interest of their particular favourites, This in all probability, gave rise to those jealousies and animosities, which prevented the harmony that ought. to subsist in all families. * See Rom. ix,
Whether a decay of memory betrayed Isaac into the error, is not mentioned; but he appears to have forgotten what the Lord had revealed to his wife, for he resolved to give to Esau the flaternal blessing, (which appears to have been the appointed means for the conveyance of the everlasting covenant), and to shew that he meant to bestow the blessing on Esau, as the reward of his filial piety, he required him to bring venison, that he might sanctify an action which had so peculiarly endeared him to his heart, by making it a kind of witness or token, on this solemn occasion. Isaac testified a sincere faith in the Divine promises, but, in his preference of Esau, he certainly acted on a wrong principle. Rebekah also believed in the promises, and never lost sight of the Divine revelation which she had been favoured with before the birth of her children. Anxious. to secure the blessing for Jacob, and supposing that she was co-operating with the will of God, she thought herself justified in employing artifices to obtain it. Equally apprehensive of losing what he valued above all things, and accustomed to pay implicit obedience to his mother, Jacob thought it is duty to yield to her commands, even in opposition to the dictates of his own conscience ; under this mistaken idea, he, with reiterated falsehood, deceived his aged father Both Rebekah and Jacob were commendable for having a due esteem for the paternal benediction: but nothing can justify their attempt to bring about the accomplishment of a Divine prophecy, by a complication of frauds; it appears, however, to have been a precipitate act, the result of inconsideration, rather than. premeditated wickedness. - *** It is conjectured that the raiment which Jacob put on when he went to his father, was a dress which Esau had to distinguish him as the eldest son.
The behaviour of Isaac to the supposed Esau, shews, that he meant to make him heir to the promises at first vouchsafed by the Lok D to Abraham, and afterwards confirmed to himself. The words in which he pronounced the blessing were evidently a fro/hecy, and they perfectly agreed with that prediction concerning the everlasting covenant, which the Lok D himself had formerly declared *. Isaac was certainly wrong in proceeding in so momentous an affair without seeking God’s direction, or referring to the Divine revelation, which had been:
formerly made. However Esau might have despised his birth-right, , he was not ignorant of the value of the Divine promises ; nor does he seem to have been destitute of faith in them, for he readily made preparations for receiving the paternal benediction; but his faith was not productive of obedience; so far was he from being perfectly devoted # to the Lor D, that he intermarried with those very nations who were designed to be cut off for their wickedness, and he transferred the birth-right to Jacob, and solemnly called upon the Lord Himselff as a witness. of his willingness to forego the advantage of having Him as a God, which was a principal part of the everlasting covenant. Had the blessing been merely hersonal, . " surely he would have deserved to lose it. And in fact it was, properly speaking, Esau who was the sufftlanter, or Jacob had a right to the blessing, both by Divine appointment, and the solemn resignation of Esau. lsaac's violent agitation, when he discovered the fraud that had been practised on him, may be imputed to a sudden recollection that he had opposed the revealed will of God, in intending to give to his eldest son the blessing destined for the youngest. It is evident that * Gen. xvii. 8, + Gen. xxvi. 34. . ; Gen. xxvi. 34. “ Isaac
Isaac did not design to offend the Lord ; on the contrary, he resisted the earnest importunities, and even bitter tears of a darling son, and could not be prevailed upon to make a deliberate attempt to counteract the decree of Heaven, but voluntarily confirmed the blessing, which he had inadvertently pronounced. All that Isaac could do to console Esau, was, to pronounce the blessing which God designed for his posterity; and it is remarkable, that it was equal in value to that pronounced on Jacob's, excepting in the circumstance of supremacy, and that even this was to continue only for a season. The practical instruction which Reason teaches us to eollect from this section, seems to be, that fathers and mothers should not give a partial preference to any one of their children. That brothers ought not to endeavour to circumvent each other; that the practice of deceit and falsehood, even from pious motives, will cast an odium upon the best characters: and that parents should not entice their children into sin; nor children yield to their parents’ persuasions, when their own consciences tell them, that by doing so they will offend God. - We have not, like the patriarchs, particular revelations concerning the future prosperity of our descendants; but a title to a share in the Everlasting Covenant has been purchased for us, and for our children. The means to secure this title are proposed in the Scriptures; therefore, instead of endeavouring, with a too anxious solicitude for their worldly interest, to do the work of Divine Providence in their behalf, let us instil into the minds of our children lessons of piety, and accustom them to study the oracles of God as the best rules of moral conduct; then will they be upright and sincere in all their words and actions, and affectionately united to each other, and the Lord Himself will bestow on them his choicest blessings, both temporal and eternal. o ~ SECTION
is AAc El Esseth J Aco R, AND send ETH in M ro PA DAN A R A.M. -From Genesis, Chaft. xxvii. AND F sau hated Jacob, because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him : and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand, then will I slay my brother Jacob. And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah : and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau as touching thee doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee. Now, therefore, my son, obey my voice and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother, to Haran ; and tarry with him a few days, until thy brother's fury turn away, until thy brother's anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him : then I will send and fetch thee from thence : why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life, because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me? And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people: And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to