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naturally be expected to descend in the line of the lawful first-born son, and which Esau therefore ought to have highly valued, and to have parted with life itself rather than have done any thing to deprive himself of them. It is evident, I say, that they were spiritual and not temporal advantages which were attached to the birthright in the family of Isaac; and in fact Jacob obtained no advantages of a worldly nature by his purchase of it. That such was their nature is declared by the Apostle, who, for Esau's contempt of them, calls him a "profane person."
These blessings Esau despised. He could not but be well acquainted with their nature and value, for they must often have been the subject of Isaac's conversation with his family, and yet he parted with his interest in them for a mess of pottage; "for one morsel of meat he sold his birthright." It would have been a strong proof of his indifference to religious privileges had he sold them for all the riches that Jacob could have given him in return; but it exhibited the greatest profaneness and contempt of them when he
threw them away for so mere a trifle. Such was the character of this transaction on the part of Esau, and such the irreligious and impious state of his judgment and feelings.
But it may be said that it was unjust and peculiarly unkind in Jacob to take advantage of his brother's necessity and thoughtlessness. Be it so. This only reflects some discredit upon him, but affords no palliation of the fault of Esau. The scriptures do not hold up Jacob or any other mere man as a pattern of rectitude in every particular. We may however well suppose that Jacob had long been aware of his brother's indifference in this matter, and that he had had daily proofs of the light estimation in which he held these spiritual favours, and therefore would be less scrupulous in availing himself of the opportunity of becoming possessed of that which Esau esteemed of so little value. Nor did Esau repent of what he had done, or care any thing more about it. He expressed no regret for his folly, he made no endeavour to induce his brother to set him free from his agreement, but shewed himself well satisfied with
the equivalent, such as it was, which he had obtained. This appears strongly expressed in the terms in which his behaviour is related: "he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright."
Let us now close this account of Esau, and apply it to ourselves. Are there not too many of us who are guilty of the same indifference and contempt of spiritual blessings? Such must be far more inexcusable than even Esau. It might be alledged for him, if he were to be compared with us who live under the christian dispensation, that he could not so well know the value of either the Saviour or the portion that was promised, while we have a full acquaintance with the dignity and grace of the divine Redeemer, and with the value of the inheritance that is reserved for the saints in light. But how is that Son of God who was promised to the patriarchs, and who has appeared to us, who has suffered and died, who rose and ascended, who sits at the right hand of God as head over all things to his church, in whom all fulness dwells, and
who has received gifts for men, I ask, how is that Saviour received? The unhappy truth is that many "see no form or comeliness in him that they should desire him," and he is still despised and rejected of men." The present salvation which he effects, and the future glories which he will bestow, do also receive no greater regard. Tell them of his sanctifying grace which will renew them and make them holy, tell them of his blood which will cleanse them from all sin, tell them of the glory of his kingdom and the happiness of his heaven, they make light of these things; they despise them, contemptuously disregard, and profanely reject them.
This contempt of divine things still arises from an insatiable hunger and thirst after earthly possessions and sensual indulgencies. The necessities of the body are pleaded for. We must live, say men; we must provide for ourselves and our families, and we cannot attend to this religion; we must eat and drink and be clothed now, whatever becomes of us hereafter. Not only are the necessities of the body thus pleaded in excuse, but an
inordinate desire for the gratification of its appetites hurries them on into more determined and obstinate rejection. What would the language of many be, if put into words, but this, Give me the gratification of my desire. I must and will have it, whatever it cost me?" Urged on by its impetuosity and an obstinate will they determine to have their indulgence, and no considerations of the future, no consequences temporal or eternal, have influence enough to restrain them.What do we see in all this, but the very character, the temper and conduct of the profane Esau? What is here but a sale of the birthright for a mess of pottage?
And, when this has been done, is there not with many, the same reckless unconcern? They do not bethink themselves and say what have I done? but they go on in their worldly and irreligious course, utterly careless of the consequences. They do not acknowledge and bewail their sin and folly; they do not repent and pray for pardon; they do not resort to the means which God has in mercy provided for the forgiveness of an offender,