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Jacob and Esau.

Jacob and Esau.

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GEN. xxvii. 35.

he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and

hath taken away thy blessing.
GEN. xxvii. 35.

he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and

hath taken away thy blessing.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jun 23, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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JACOB AND ESAU.REV. JOHN VENN, M.A.GEN. xxvii. 35.he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, andhath taken away thy blessing.In many facts of history recorded by the sacredpenman, he merely relates the story, withoutmaking any comments upon it. This simplicity of narration is peculiar to the ancient historians. Thepractice of modern times is different. The historiannow commonly conveys his own judgment on thatwhich he records : he intersperses reflections :he displays himself as well as his subject. —This plainness of the ancient writers may beattended either by good or bad consequences.The beneficial consequences are these : that weare led to reason for ourselves, and that we arecompelled in so doing to increase the diligenceand accuracy of our examination. One of theVOL. IJ. c18 JACOB AND ESAU.mischievous consequences (I speak particularlywith respect to the sacred writers) is, the dangerof approving the actions related of good men,whenever the historian has not marked them witha note of disapprobation. The case adverted toin the text, in which Jacob obtains the " blessingby subtilty" from his father, is of this kind. Nocensure is passed upon it by IVIoses ; and aninadvertent reader might consider it only in thelight of a trick, displaying considerable ingenuityof contrivance and dexterity of execution. Butthough the sacred writer does not stop to descanton Jacob's guilt, the subsequent history of Jacobplainly discovers a just Providence punishinghis sin, and reads to us a lesson as instructiveas though the inspired penman had inscribed inthe front of it, " Behold here the baneful effectsof frand ! " It may be useful to contemplate the
whole story.We find, in the xxvth of Genesis, that Esau andJacob were brothers ; and that the Lord repliedto the inquiries of Rebecca concerning her chil-dren, by saying, that they should be the headsof two nations, and that " the elder should servethe younger^^ — Thus was a prophec}' delivered,that Esau should serve Jacob; or, at least, thatthe posterity of Esau should serve that of Jacob.It may please God to foretel future events, butJACOB AND ESAU. IQit is not therefore our duty to endeavour bycrooked means to bring them to pass. Goddoes not give us prophecy for our rule of con-duct. He will accomplish his purposes in hisown manner. It may he happy for us that weunderstand so little of his secret purposes. Inthis very instance, some knowledge of his inten-tion may possibly have laid the foundation of the fraud of Jacob, and the unhappiness of Rebecca.As Esau and Jacob grew up, we read, that" Esau was a skilful hunter, a man of the field ;but that Jacob was a plain man" (/. e. a quiet,peaceable, domestic man), " dwelling in tents."'' Isaac," it is said, " loved Esau, because he dideat of his venison," but Rebecca loved Jacob.The foundations of the most material errors inlife are often laid at a very early period. Parentsare frequently disappointed in their offspring, andtroubled during their lives, through a cause whichthey little suspect. They complain of theirchildren, when perhaps the fault may be in them-selves. They have indulged an early partiality,founded upon no just reasons, which has beenproductive, on each side, of the worst effects.There is but one true ground of preference withrespect to children, to friends, to neighbours, toacquaintance J namely, that of real excellence.c 2
20 JACOB AND ESAU.But how many false, and frivolous, and artificialdistinctions have been introduced by the caprice,the pride, the false taste, of the world. Thecase of Isaac and Rebecca illustrates thisremark. Their own unhappiness and the discordof their children were chiefly referable to afoolish and unfounded partiality in themselves." Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of hisvenison ; " and Rebecca loved Jacob, because histemper and habits led him to be much with herin the tent. When will men learn to watch theirpartialities, their prejudices, and their passions ?Providence often points out the sin in the pu-nishment, and teaches parents discretion in themanagement of their children, by setting beforetheir eyes the evil effects which follow from thewant of it.We read, soon after, of Esau's selling hisbirthright for a mess of pottage. — It appearsfrom this concise story, that there was no greatharmony between the young men ; and indeed itcould not be expected. Isaac and Rebecca hadlaid the ground for jealousies and animositiesbetween them. The one was the favourite of the father; the other of the mother. Theywere thus made rivals, and from rivals becameenemies to each other. The profaneness of 'Esau in selling his birthright, to which was an-JACOB AND ESAU. 21laexed a blessing usually valued at the highestrate, must be admitted. But while we blameEsau, let us give the just share of censure toJacob, who refused to relieve his brother's hun-ger, except at a price as culpable in the one torequire as it was in the other to pay. Accord-ing to the account of the historian, Jacob re^quires from his brother an oath that he wouldgive him up his birthright. But had Esau anypower to surrender it ? And would it be sup-posed that he who despised his birthright wouldregard an oath, obtained under such circun>

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