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Esau, Or the Sorrow That Worketh Death.

Esau, Or the Sorrow That Worketh Death.

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Published by glennpease
BY Alexander Penrose Forbes


Gen. XXVIII. 38.

"And Esau lifted up his voice and wept."
BY Alexander Penrose Forbes


Gen. XXVIII. 38.

"And Esau lifted up his voice and wept."

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Published by: glennpease on Sep 05, 2013
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04/24/2014

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ESAU, OR THE SORROW THAT WORKETH DEATH.BY Alexander Penrose ForbesGen. XXVIII. 38."And Esau lifted up his voice and wept."We must read the crimes and virtues of the menof the olden time by the light of the ew Testa-ment. On a cursory perusal of the book of Ge-nesis, we feel very sorry for Esau. There is muchii} him that appeals to the good opinion of thenatural man, and this is enhanced by the contrastwith his holy brother. It is a strange thing thateven in secular works of the imagination, greatpoets have succeeded better with their secondarycharacters than with their heroes. We preferHector to Achilles, Turnus to iEneas. Perhapsthe mind revolts at any character which is held upto it for praise alone, and on that account judgesit by d severer standard. I believe that mostpeople have felt this in the history of Jacob and176 EsaUf or the sorrow that worketk death.Esaa. Even with a dae submission to the juiaward of God^ they cannot help having sympathwith the great hunter, — strong, hearty, voracionipassionate, placable, while they feel less kindttowards his brother, — smooth, astute, devout, nverential. To appreciate the good points of thlatter we must place ourselves in his position, tthe midst of an idolatrous and very sinful state (society, it was a great thing to retain the faith antrust in the God of his fathers which Israel maintained. He and Esau had a similar domestic trail
 
ing ; the one fell away to godlessness, the othcin the midst of much imperfection maintained hireligion. Of his generation, (for of course the lilof Isaac was more than exemplary, it was pioiand contemplative,) Jacob was the one who mailtained the cause of God. It was Jacob againthe world ; and they who have felt the difficultof confessing Christ before men, in the preseiday, even with the aid of grace and the indwelliiof the Holy Spirit, will be able to appreciate tlhigh favour in which Jacob was with his DiviMaster.In considering the character of Esau, we mvput out of sight for a moment the predestinationGod which is expressed by the prophet Malac(i.3,) "I loved Jacob and I hated Esau;^^ a passacommented upon by S. Paul in the ninth chaptof the Epistle to the Bomans. This is the gnJE$au, or the sorrow that worketh death, 177mystery which takes place in every one of us ; itis the question of the prescience of God and theCreedom of the human agent; two truths — buttruths unsearchable and irreconcilable in the pre-sent state of human reason. "The day will de-clare it/' Meanwhile listen to the noble wordsof S. Ghrysostom commenting on the text in theBomans."Yield then to the incomprehensibleness of the election. For it is He alone Who knowethhow to crown aright. How many^ e.g., seemedbetter than S. Matthew, to go by the exhibitionof works then visible. But He Who knoweth allthings underhand, and is able to assay the mind'saptitude, knew the pearl though lying in the
 
mire^ and after passing by others and being wellpleased with the beauty of this, He elected it, andby adding to the noble-born freewill grace fromHimself, He made it approved. For if in the caseof these arts which are perishable, and indeed inother matters, those that are^ood judges do notuse the grounds on which tbe uninstructed formtheir decision, in selecting out of what is put be-fore them ; but from points which they are them-selves all aware of, they maivf times disparage thatwhich the ignorant approve, and decide upon thatwhich they disparage] and horse-breakers do thisoften with horses, and so the judges of preciousstones and workmen in other arts; much more178 E$au, or the iorraw that worketh death.will the God that loveth man, the infinite WiadonijWho alone hath a clear knowledge of all things,not allow of man's guesses, but will out of Uk own exact and unfailing wisdom pass His sentenceupon all men. Hence it was He chose the pub?lican, the thief and the harlot, but dishonored(the) priest, (the) elders, (the) rulers, and castthem out. • • • Do not then call the Creator toaccount, nor say, why is it that one was crowned,and another punished ? For He knoweth how todo these things with exactness. Whence also Hesays, ^ Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated/That it was with justice, ye indeed know from theresult ; but Himself, even before the result, knewit clearly."^ow putting aside the thought of the predes-tination of God in the case of Esau, we have toinquire what was his crime. There were manj

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