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wise. To know Him was to inhale a more than earthly atmosphere and live upon the air of heaven. Nor is it only on the men who then lived that His power and influence have been exerted. He lives among
He is at work upon the world still, sanctifying all who come to Him for life, pouring out His own Spirit upon all flesh, that all may be lifted to His level, and dwell with Him upon the mountain-tops, breathing the fresh influences which haunt the holy hill of Zion. He is the mountain of safety, the Ararat on which His Church rests, amid the deluge of destruction with which the world will soon be covered. He is the ennobling power by which alone a man can rise to man's true greatness. He is the leaven which hallows the whole mass of human nature, filling it with life, that it may not be dead and lumpy as unleavened bread. He is the salt which gives the world savour, and keeps it from that entire corruption in which, except for Him, it must all perish.
Flee, then, to this mountain, lest you be consumed. Escape for your life. Behold the fire approaching. Behold, in the sins of a lost world which lies in wickedness, the certain presages of coming judgment. See the heavens opened. Behold the Son of God descending to the earth to be a Saviour. Listen to the Gospel which He preaches. Hear the angel voices which bid you fly from death. Escape. Escape for life. Delay not. Already, if ye are not escaped yet, the smell of fire is on you, and the wrath of God is scorching you. Escape. Care not what
Mind not what you leave behind you. It is enough if you can save yourselves. If all that you have besides shall perish, what matter? It is not worth having if it is only fuel for fire. Escape. Look not behind
Make a clean and perfect sacrifice. Let it all go. With your own ungrudging hands commit it to the burning. Stay not in the plain. Content not yourselves with a tame faith and a spiritless love for Him who loves you altogether. Be ardent. Be zealous.
Hasten as though you were eager to love and serve God. Flee to the mountain. Flee where alone there is safety. Flee to Christ, your all-sufficient Saviour. Find shelter in Him and in His Church, which is the ark indeed. Ask Him to ennoble you by the gift of His Spirit. He will make you good. He will raise and sanctify you. He will lift you up to heaven, where you will be quite safe from the consuming fire.
JACOB AND ESAU.
Rom. ix, 13.
“As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”
N the incident of which we read this morning in
Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Esau, were flesh and blood as we are. They lived, indeed, a great while ago, and under circumstances which were different in many ways from those of our own time and condition. But they were human beings of like passions with ourselves, children of the one Creator, heirs of the same promises, beset by kindred temptations, ready to be caught in like snares. Let us consider, then, the conduct of these two brothers, but especially of Jacob, as here recorded for our learning, and let us endeavour to extract from it some out of the many lessons which it is calculated to teach ourselves.
The circumstances are these. Isaac, now an old man, his eyes dim so that he could not see, was anxious to bless his eldest son Esau, and to bestow on him those gifts of earthly honour and prosperity which would have followed as a consequence of his blessing and prayers. Rebekah was no less anxious that the fortune which Isaac desired for Esau should descend upon her favoured son Jacob. Taught by God, at the time of their birth when the twin children struggled within her, that the younger should be greater than the elder, and bound to the younger by sympathies with a character which was very like her own, in its outline and more prominent features, not only did she wish that Jacob should prosper, but she was ready to employ artifice to carry out God's predetermined end. Accordingly, she persuaded Jacob to personate his brother Esau. It was not easy to do this, although the aged Isaac was now blind. It could only be accomplished by steady and unblushing falsehood, both in act and deed. But Rebekah was a politic woman; and policy can soon slide into craft, and craft into artifice, and artifice into deceit, and deceit into falsehood, and falsehood into black hypocrisy. The deed, therefore, ,
soon done. Jacob passed for Esau, and the blessing of Isaac descended upon
the younger brother's head. Then appeared Esau. But he was too late. The blessing was gone from him. The good for which he longed was flown away. Esau lifted up his voice and wept.” But Esau had no right to weep.
Before this he had sold his birthright. He had despised that high blessing which God bestowed on Abraham. He had profanely rejected the great honour which was promised by God when it was said, “ In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” To be the ancestor of the Messiah was a good which Esau did not value. And he who had scorned the birthright had justly forfeited the blessing. He had lost his title to the goods of earth when he had trodden under foot the goods of heaven. It was wrong, no doubt, in Jacob to win
by subtlety a good which would certainly have come to him in some right and lawful manner, if he had left it to the providence of God. But Esau had no right to burn with rage against his younger brother. The fury which Esau turned against his brother Jacob should rather have been turned against his own folly; for the favour of God had left him when he sold his birthright for one mess of food.
Now, the first impressions which we derive from this narrative are rather, I should suppose, upon the side of Esau than on that of Jacob. There is much in the character of Esau which at first sight captivates the view. He had that frankness, openness, and generosity of nature which wins human favour, and which, if found in union with strong principles and a love of truth and goodness, may in time expand into great nobility of heart and life. On the other hand, the qualities of Jacob which here attract our notice are not those which men admire. Led by his mother, who found in his natural temperament a fitting field for the exercise of her politic and artful temper, he had recourse to cunning, deceit, and even positive falsehood to attain his end. Upon whom, too, were his arts exercised ? Upon his blind and aged father. Against whom were his efforts directed ? Against his elder brother. Nay more,--for, led on from sin to sin, he found himself compelled to act the hypocrite—he even dragged God into the web of artifice, and pleaded a special providence as the reason for his rapid execution of his father's will. All this, of course, is very bad; and just in proportion as we hate trickery, cunning, deceit, lying, hypocrisy, and admire what is manly, and candid, and generous, we are disposed to sympathize with