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that is timid as a hare. Now since we are depraved ourselves and therefore prone to offend, and live among a depraved generation, who are therefore ready to take offence and seek revenge, we shall sometimes have enemies, shall sometimes be in fear of danger from them to our persons or property, and conscious that they have more power than ourselves. Let us then betake ourselves to prayer.
Let us beseech God to protect us; and let us pray to him to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts. Such prayer will also have another most beneficial effect : it will bring our own feelings into a right frame : it will make us humble and meek, ready to conciliate, disposed to do good to those who would do evil to us, and to bless those who would despitefully use us and persecute us.
Such was now the conduct of Jacob. He shews the utmost desire to avert his brother's wrath, and takes every prudent means to soften and appease him. We saw in the last sermon what respectful messages he sent to Esau, and what a rich present he prepared
for him. We find him now 'arranging the women and children into two bands, that Esau first perceiving them, might behold no hostile array of servants and followers presented to him, but only such persons as intended no force and could make no resistance. Yet we find that he placed the handmaids and their children first, and Leah and her children next, and his beloved Rachel and her son Joseph last, probably in order that if Esau, contrary to his hopes, should begin to slay or take captive, those might first fall into his hands who were least regarded, and those who were most beloved and honoured might have the better opportunity to escape.
This being done Jacob advanced before them all, that he might himself first meet his brother. He approached him in the most submissive manner; he bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. This was wisely done. The wrath in Esau's mind had been excited, as we saw, by the matters of the birthright and the blessing. He attached much of earthly
superiority and power to them, while he cared little for the spiritual blessings connected with them. By his meek and humble behaviour Jacob endeavoured to remove what he well knew was the main cause of Esau's resentment. So far from assuming the smallest appearance of authority over his brother, he shewed him such tokens of reverence as inferiors were wont to do to superiors, and thereby acknowledged his brother's superiority. These measures succeeded.
Esau was completely disarmed by them. Instead of proceeding to any act of violence, instead of even using any severe or reproachful language to Jacob, “ he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him, and they wept.' was this meeting ! so contrary to what Jacob had feared, and, it may be said, to what he had deserved at the hands of Esau. God who had promised to be with him, and to whom he had so earnestly prayed, now gave him the most decisive proof of his care. For we cannot doubt that this change in
How happy Esau's mind towards his brother was his work in answer to Jacob's prayer.
The reconciliation of Esau thus so happily begun, Jacob was careful to preserve. In all their subsequent intercourse, as recorded in this chapter, you will find the same respectful carriage on the part of Jacob and his people. When Esau looking on the women and the children enquired, who are those with thee, Jacob replied, “ The children which God hath graciously given thy servant," in which answer his acknowledgment of God's goodness, and his own inferiority to his brother, are equally observable.
" When the handmaidens came near, they and their children, they bowed themselves :” so did Leah and her children; so did Rachel and Joseph. Thus Esau would perceive that all Jacob's people, as well as himself, were ready to do him reverence. When Esau asked again, “ What meanest thou by all this drove which I met?” referring to the present which Jacob had sent before, he was answered, “ These are to find grace in the sight of my lord;” and no doubt, the title
lord” was more efficacious than even the present itself, a title which you will find Jacob studiously repeating in all their following conversation. The contest between them was therefore henceforth only a question of kindness, Esau declining the present, and Jacob pressing it upon him, and again Esau proposing first to accompany Jacob, and then to leave a guard of his own men with him for his protection, and to do him honour, and Jacob declining the intended compliment, as being now unnecessary for him, and unsuitable to his circumstances. Thus they separated, each proceeding to his own place of dwelling, and the brothers ever after lived in peace and harmony together.
Having thus pursued the history of this reconciliation between the two brothers, and v made a few passing observations on it, I now proceed to deduce some further instruction from it.
I. In the first place we are hereby taught to seek reconciliation with those who are at enmity with us, and especially if they have just cause for it. We should indeed be