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scrupled not to say,

66 Because the Lord thy God brought it to me.” We stand amazed at his daring to take the name of God in vain so impiously, for the piety of the words makes the impiety of their falsehood so much the greater. Alas, he had now none of the fear of God before his eyes, and in his anxiety to obtain his purpose and escape detection, forgot all the reverence which was due to the majesty on high. But Isaac was not without some suspicion ; the voice sounded in his ear like that of Jacob, and therefore he required him to come near that he might feel him. And here the crafty contrivance of Rebekah had complete success. Feeling that the hands of Jacob were hairy like his brother Esau's hands, the doubts of the old man vanished. “ The voice,” said he, “is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”

Thus the stratagem succeeded; Isaac, without further hesitation, ate of the savoury meat which was brought to him, and having kissed him, and smelled the smell of his raiment, by which he was further deceived, he gave Jacob the blessing. The impostor

had scarcely gone out from the presence of his father, before the real Esau appeared : he had been successful in his hunting : he had prepared the venison according to the taste of his father; and now he came in full expectation of receiving the promised reward. The narrative here is full of life and interest; “ Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison and brought it to me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him, yea, ,

and he shall be blessed." The patriarch was then almost in the situation in which Balaam afterwards found himself. Unwittingly he had given the blessing to one from whom he wished to have withheld it, and it could not be reversed. He was conscious that he had spoken it under the direct influence of the Spirit of prophecy, and that therefore it would surely be fulfilled.

And what did Esau ? “ When he heard the words of his father he cried with an exceeding great and bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.” He well knew of what importance to him it was to have a blessing from his father, and that it would assuredly convey to him all the power and wealth and greatness which might be comprised in the terms of it, for profane as he was he knew that these blessings were prophetic. And therefore having been informed by his father who had deprived him of the intended blessing, and having vented his indignation against him in the words of the text, he returned to his enquiry, “ Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?” Again, when he was informed of all that Isaac had prophetically given to Jacob, he came again to the same point, “ Hast thou but one blessing, my father ? bless me, even me also, O

my

father. And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.” How keenly did he then feel the effects of his own folly and impiety in selling his birthright! How bitter was the fruit of his own planting which he then had to eat! Yet he obtained a blessing. Although he could not have the blessing, that which alone conveyed “the blessing of Abraham,” yet he got such a one as suited his character and circumstances. With that he departed full of hatred to his brother, determining to kill him as soon as his father's death should afford him an opportunity.

II. Such is the historical account of this extraordinary transaction. I now proceed, in the second place, to make some reflections on the conduct of the parties concerned in it.

1. Here is, first, something highly blameable on the part of Isaac. He could not but know that God intended that the peculiar blessing which he had given to Abraham, and renewed to himself, should belong to Jacob. He could not but know that so he was to understand the prophecy respecting them which was spoken their birth, namely, - The elder shall serve the younger.

He must have known also that Esau had already forfeited the blessing by his sale of the birthright for the mess of pottage. But through his partiality for his elder son he was not willing to co-operate with and fulfil the declared intention of God. On the contrary he desired and endeavoured to counteract it. Here then on his part was a great fault, deserving of much reprehension. My brethren, let us learn to submit our own desires and to subordinate our wishes to the will of God. We may not have any prophetic declarations or express revelation respecting the circumstances of ourselves and others; but we have always general rules in the written word, and we have often particular providences in individual cases, which sufficiently point out to us what is the will of the Lord, and what is our own duty. This may be contrary to our desires. Let us learn nevertheless to submit to it. Especially let us never attempt to act against it. Nay, let us always endeavour to further it, aiming ever to be found in the way of duty, and to be the willing instruments of his pleasure. It seems that Isaac was eventually brought to this temper of mind, and that he afterwards acceded with all his heart to the appointment of God respecting his sons. When he found that, contrary to his own wish and endeavour, Jacob had obtained the promise, and when he was sending him away into Syria, for fear of the resentment of Esau, and also that

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