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the good will and pleasure of God, without any view to, or regard of any thing which Jacob or Esau should do.1 God made the promise at first to Abraham, not to Lot; and afterwards determined, that Abraham's seed should be called in Isaac, not in Ishmael; and in the next generation in Jacob, not in Esau; and afterwards he divided the blessing among the sons of Jacob. The Messiah was to be born of Judah, and each of them in their posterity had a share of the land of Canaan. The author of the boojfof Ecclesiasticus sets this matter in the clearest light, by distinguishing the blessing into two parts. He calls one the blessing of all men, alluding to the promise made to Abraham, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be hlessed; the other he calls the covenant, intimating hereby the covenant made with him about the land of Canaan; and both these parts of the blessing were given to Isaac, for Abraham's sake. With Isaac did he establish likewise, for Abraham his father's sake, the blessing of all men, and the covenant, m and he made it rest upon the head of Jacob. He gave the whole blessing entire to Jacob also, but afterwards among the twelve tribes did he part them."

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1 Rom. fx. 11. "Ecclesiasticus xliv. 22,23.

TM The words are, S/»r'iXt fujiJar avnt, i* $v\xis ii*i{im>

JixaSvo. i.e. Heseparatcd the parts of it (i.c.of the blessing.)

He parted them among the twelve tribes. Abraham is

represented in Gen. xii. to have received only a promise of

the blessing of all men; but God is said to make a con.

lant with him to give him Canaan, Gen. Xt. 18. When the blessing came to descend to Jacob's children, it did not go entire according to birth-right, nor to any one person, who had deserved it better than all the rest; but us God at first made the promise and covenant to Abraham, not «o Lot, and gave the title to it afterwards to Isaac, not to Ishmuel, then to Jacob, not to Ksou; so in tho next generation, ho conveyed it entire to one single person, but divided if, and gave the blessing of all men to Judah, who Whs Jacob's fourth son; mid purtod the covenant about Canaan amongst nil of them, giving two parts to Joseph in his two Noun Ephruim and Manasseh.

There is a passage in tho book of Chronicles, which may seem to contradict this account I am en* tleavouring to give of Jacob's or Esau's birth right. The ions of Reuben the first-born of Israel, for he was, says the historian, the firsthorn, but forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birth-right wasgiven unto the sons of Joseph, and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birth-right; for Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the thief ruler, but the birth-right was Joseph's." In this passage the inspired writer may be thought to hint, that there was a birth-right to be observed in the division of Canaan; and that when Odd ordered the blessing to be parted he had a respect to such birth-right in the division of it; though ho did not think fit to give it to a person, who by his demerit* had forfeited it; and it may bo asked, if Jacob'*

• 1 Chron. v. 1, 9.

children had a birth-right in this matter, why should we suppose that Isaac's had not? To this 1 answer: the passage I have mentioned does not in tiic least refer to any birth-right, which Mas esteemed to be such in ths days of Jacob and Esau. I. For if the inheritance of the father's estate was at that time part of the birth-right; yet it is evident, that it was not so in the proportion here mentioned. For not only a double portion particularly belonged to the eldest son in these times, but the whole. Thus Abraham gate all that he had unto Isaac; but unto the children, whom he had by Keturah, his second wife, he gave gifts and sent them away eastward, while he yet lived, from Isaac his son. If therefore the inheritance of Canaan had been given according to the birth-right in these days; one of Jacob's sons should have had the whole, and all the rest have been sent to live in some other country. 2. The right of the first-born was settled upon another footing by the law of Mo» ses. The priesthood was separated from it, and settled upon the tribe of Levi, and a double por» tion of the father's estate and substance declared to belong top the first-born. 3. Esau, when he sold his birthright, did not sell his- right of inheritancc at his father's death. 4. Jacob had prophe. siedq that Joseph should have one portion of the land of Canaan ahove his brethren; but does not any where hint that any one of '' sons should have a birth-right to one pai more than the rest,

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And we may say, that as the whole blessing was made to rest upon the head of Jacob, without Esau's having any part of it; so it might likewise have descended to any one of Jacob's sons, and it could have descended only to one of them, if it had been a birthright, and had not by the good-will and pleasure of God been designed to be parted among the twelve tribes, to every one such a portion of it, as God was pleased to appoint, and that part of it which contained the blessing of all men to Judah only. For these reasons I conclude, 5. That the author of the book of Chronicles, writing after the law of Moses had altered the priest-hood, and appointed two portions of the inheritance to the eldest son * remarks that Joseph had the birthright given to him, meaning to refer to what was then called the birth-right; but not to what was the birth-right, in Jacob and Esau's days, which was long prior to, and very different from, this establishment.

The Jews, at the time when the apostles preached the gospel, seem to have been of opinion, that the whole body of their nation had a birth-right and unalienable title to the blessings of the Messiah. This was the hope of the promise made by God unto their fatkers; unto which promise their twelve tribes instantly serving God day and night hoped to come.' After the blessing, which had been made to rest upon th« head of Jacob, had been parted among the twelve tribes; they apprehended that this was to be the

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'Acts xxvi. 7. last distribution of it, and that the whole Jewish nation, or twelve tribes jointly as a people, were to enjoy the blessing for ever. But St. Paul endeavoun in several places to correct this mistake; and argues very clearly, that the blessing was never appointed to descend according to birth-right or inheritance; for that not the children of the flesh, but the children of the promise are to be counted for the seed of Abraham, who have a title to it, i. e. not those, who by natural descent may seem to have a right, but Jhose to whom Gon by special design and promise had directed it.' This he proves by instance from Jacob and Esau, that, when Rebekah had conceived them, before the children were born, or had done good or ceil, that it might -not be said to be owing to any thing they had done, but to the mere determination of God's good-will and pleasure, it was said unto her, that the elder should serve the younger.1 Thus Esau was the son, who by descent might seem to have the right, but Jacob had it by promise. In the same manner, when Christ the. promised seed of Abraham was come; the twelve tribes thought themselves heirs of the blessings to be received from him; but in this they erred, not rightly understanding the promise. He was to be the blessing of all men, or according to the words of the promise, in him all the families of the earth," or all the nations of the earth were to be blessed.x And in order to this, God

• Rom. ix. 8. * Ibid. ix. 12.

7 Gen. xii. 3. xviii. 18. * Ibid, xxii.18. xxvi. 4.

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