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stream, which the peasant could dry up with | remaining pledge of his Rachel's love, de-
tivity. A guardian Providence has protected Much more is written of Jacob than of any and delivered him from his avowed enemies, other of the patriarchs. Alas! it is only say- from Laban, and from Esau: but the most ing that his miseries were much more nu- dangerous enemies of his repose are still merous and severe. In a life shorter than nearer to him, they “are those of his own his father's by thirty-three years, calamity so house." He has purchased an estate, he has crowded upon calamity, that it seems extend spread his tent, he has erected his altar; ed to the utmost stretch of even antediluvian * his mountain stands strong," what can iongevity. What hour of his mature age is move him? From what slight beginnings, free from pain and sorrow ? Not one! In do great events artse! Dinah the daughter what region does he find repose ? No where. of Jacob, prompted by female vanity, curiosiCanaan, Haran, Egypt, are to him almost ty, or some other motive equally deserving equally inclement. As a son, a servant, an blame, ventures, unattended, beyond the husband, a father; in youth, in manhood, in verge of the paternal superintendence and old age; he is unremittingly afflicted. And protection, and falls into danger and shame. no sooner is one difficulty surmounted, one She went out, says the scripture, “to see wo past, than another and a greater over the daughters of the land." Josephus affirms, takes him. Formerly he had youthful blood that she was attracted by the celebration of and spirits to encounter and to endure the a great public festival, according to the manills of life. Hope still cheered the heart, and ners of the country. Her youth, innocence, scattered the cloud. But now, behold the and inexperience inspire confidence; novelty hoary head sinking with sorrow to the grave; awakens curiosity; beauty tempts, opportuthe spirit oppressed, overwhelmed, with a nity favours, and virtue is lost. From the sea of trouble. Keen recollection summons first transgression, down to this day, female up the ghosts of former afflictions, and past disgrace and ruin have begun in the gratifijoys recur only to remind him that they are cation of an immoderate desire to see, and to gone for ever; and black despair obscures, know, some new thing; from an inclination excludes the prospect of good to come. What to exhibit themselves, and to observe others. heart is not wrung, at hearing a poor old One daughter of Israel is much more likely man closing the bitter recapitulation of his to be corrupted by communication with many misfortunes, in the words I have read, “ All, daughters of Canaan than they are to be imall these things are against me ?"
proved by the conversation of that one. There Perhaps the life of no other man affords a is much wisdom, my fair friends, in keeping ļike instance of accumulated distress. The far, very far within your bounds. There is mournful detail of this evening will present, danger, great danger, in advancing to the collected within the compass of not many utmost limit of liberty and virtue. For, the months, a series of the heaviest afflictions extreme boundary of virtue is also the exthat ever man endured; and all springing up treme boundary of vice; and she who goes
out of objects, in which the heart naturally every length she lawfully may, is but half a
reproves and strikingly exposes the cool, the “Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; cruel, remorseless seducers of a Christian and their wrath, for it was cruel ; I will diage, and of a civilized country.
vide them in Jacob, and scatter them in IsThe unhappy father receives the news of rael."* We no where meet with an instance his daughter's dishonour with silent sorrow. of more savage, indiscriminating barbarity. And how often does he wish in the sequel, For the offence of one, a whole nation is that he had forever buried his grief in his mercilessly cut off, and rapine closes the own heart? Hamor readily adopts the views scene of blood. For they plundered the city, of his son, disdains not the alliance of a shep- and carried off the wretched women captive herd, courts Dinah, though humbled, with whose husbands they had murdered. Horrid, all the respect due to a princess, and all the infernal passion! And how was Dinah's munificence becoming one who was himself honour repaired by this ? And these siinple, a sovereign. Those who are fathers, who easy, believing men, these harmless, unofhave daughters for whom they feel, or for fending women, what had they done! whom they fear, will judge of Jacob's satis- Daughters of Canaan, dearly have ye bought faction at this proposal. To have the wound the favour of a visit from Jacob's daughter. which had been made in the fond paternal Idle and unhallowed was the opening of the heart, instantly closed up; the stain cast scene, and dreadful has the conclusion been. upon his name, wiped clean away; his dar- I should not have been surprised to hear of ling child's peace and reputation restored; a confederacy among all the neighbouring an honourable alliance formed with a weal- states, to exterminate such a band of robbers thy, virtuous, and generous prince; a whole and murderers from the face of the earth. people proselyted from idols to the God of Jacob is justly alarmed with the apprehenİsrael. How many sources of exquisite sa-sion of this, and, warned of God, removes tisfaction! Is the black cloud over Jacob's from the neighbourhood of Shechem to Bethhead going for once to descend in refreshing el; a spot that brought to his recollection, drops, is it going for once to burst, and dis- calmer, happier days—when he was flying perse itself into calmness and serenity ? Alas, indeed from his country, without wealth, alas! the tempest is only gathering thicker without a friend; but free also from the anxaround him; and dreadful must the discharge iety, vexation, and care, which an increased of it be. I shudder as I proceed.
family and abounding wealth have brought Simeon and Levi, two brothers german of upon him. How much better is it to go childDinah, and who, on that account, think them- less, than have children to be the grief and selves peculiarly concerned in the vindica- plague of a man's heart? tion of their sister's honour, affect to receive Being arrived at Bethel, where he had Shechem's overtures with complacency.- been blessed with the visions of the Almighty They have no scruples but what arise from on his way to Padan-aram, he deems it a religion. Let these be removed, and the proper time and place to purge his family of way is cleared at once. Deep, designing, every vestige of idolatry. It is no easy matdissembling villains! The ordinance of God ter to live in an idolatrous, or irreligious is in their mouths, the malice of the devil country, without losing a sense of religion, lies brooding in their hearts. They recom- or acquiring a wrong one.
This is one of mend a sacrament, and they are preparing a the great evils which attend travelling into sacrifice, a horrid human sacrifice, of many distant lands. Our young men who reside victims.
long abroad, whatever else they bring back There is not a more singular fact in all to their native country, generally drop by history, than the ready compliance of the the way the pious principles which were inwhole inhabitants of Shechem with the pro- stilled into them in their youth. Some very posal of changing their religion, and of re- nearly related to Jacob, I am afraid, had a ceiving, at so late a period in life, the pain- violent hankering after the gods beyond the ful sign of circumcision. Great must have flood. Why else did Rachel steal away the been the authority which Hamor had over images which were her father's? However them, or great the affection which they bore that may be, Jacob now disposes of them in him. Unhappy man! he practised a little a proper manner, and buries every shred that deceit in stating the case to his people, but could minister to idolatry, under the oak that was himself much more grossly deceived. was by Shechem. The conduct of Jacob's And I greatly question whether he had pre- sons had, of necessity, awakened a hostile vailed, had not the temptation of Jacob's cat- spirit in the country against him, which, had tle and other substance, been held out as a it not been providentially restrained, must motive to obtain their consent. Comply how- have proved fatal to him. But “ the terror ever they did—and it proved fatal to them. of God was upon the cities that were round For on the third day, the two sons of Jacob about them, and they did not pursue after the already mentioned attended probably by a sons of Jacob.”+ band of their friends and servants, rushed About this time, a breach was made in the upon them and put them all to the sword.
Gen. xxxv. 5.
+Gen. xlix. 7.
family by the death of Deborah, Rebekah's think of, and “such as is not so much as nurse; the threatening and fore-runner of a named among the Gentiles;" a crime which much heavier stroke. For, just after they blended the guilt and shame of another with had left Bethel, as he was on his way finally his own; which could not make the usual to join his father with all his family, with a apologies of surprise, temptation, or passion heart exulting, no doubt, in the prospect of for itself. But let us hasten from it. We presenting to his venerable parents the wives can sit and weep awhile upon the grave of and children which God had given him; Rachel; but from the incestuous couch of Rachel, his much-loved Rachel, is suddenly Reuben, imagination flies away with horror taken in labour by the way side, and dies, and disgust. What a dreadfully licentious, after bearing another son. Unhappy woman! irregular, and disorderly family, is the family She falls a victim to what she had coveted of pious Jacob! Each of his sons is worse so earnestly. “Give me children else I die,” and more wicked than another. Accursed in her haste, in the bitterness of her heart, Laban, I see thy infernal avarice at the botshe exclaimed She obtains her wish, and tom of all this disorder and wickedness ! It was it proves fatai co her. God, a righteous God, that which first introduced a multiplicity of gives her children, and she dies. Resentment wives into Jacob's bosom. It was that which at her vehemence and impatience is lost in created and kept up jarring interests in his sorrow for her loss.
family; and gave birth to those unhallowed, The history does not expand itself here, disgraceful, head-strong passions, which disbut simply relates the fact. Some causes are turbed his peace, pierced his heart, and disinjured, not assisted, by a multiplicity of honoured his name. words. The feelings of the patriarch on this An affliction more in the order of nature, occasion are rather to be conceived than de- and whose certain and gradual approach scribed. Rachel early, constantly, tenderly must have prepared the heart to meet it, at loved; earned with long and severe servi- length overtakes him. After an absence of tude; endeared by knowledge and habit, and more than twenty years, he rejoins his aged rendered more important and valuable by father, now in his one hundred and sixtyfruitfulness, could not be lost without pain. third year, at Arbah, afterwards called HeIt was natural for the dying mother to think bron, “the city where Abraham and Isaac soof perpetuating the memory of her mortal journed.” It does not appear whether Rebeanguish, by giving the son whom she brought kah yet lived, or not. If she did, what must into life at the expense of her own, the name have been her feelings at embracing her of Ben-oni, “ the son of my sorrow.” It was long-lost, darling son; and at finding him so wise and pious in the surviving father, to abundantly increased in children and in preserve rather the memory of the benefit wealth ? Pure and perfect is the delight of received, than of the loss sustained; and by a grandmother, as she caresses the young the name of Benjamin, “the son of my right ones of a beloved child, the heirs and reprehand," to mark and record submission to, and sentatives of the husband of her youth, the trust in Providence, rather than seek to per- supporters of his name, prospects, and dignity. petuate his grief, by retaining the maternal In presenting his family to his father, Jacob appellation, which seemed to murmur at and must have been agitated by various and mixed to reflect upon the dispensations of the Al-emotions. It was natural for the old man to mighty. Dying in childbirth, it was found inquire minutely into the events of his son's necessary to bury her with greater expedi- life, during the tedious years of their separation than the removal of the corpse to the tion; into the character and qualities of his cave of Machpelah permitted; though there grandchildren; into the state of Jacob's worldthe precious dust of Sarah and of Abraham re- ly circumstances; much more, into the state posed. And, as it is happily ordered by na- of his mind as a believer, and the heir of the ture, Jacob amuses, soothes, and spends his promise. The answer to these parental ingrief
, which might otherwise have oppressed quiries must of necessity have awaked in the and spent him, in erecting a monument to bosom of the wretched sufferer ten thousand Rachel's memory. Thus, what the heart in melancholy and painful sensations; and torn the first paroxysms of its anguish, intends open afresh those wounds which the lenient as the means of rendering grief lasting or hand of time had begun to close up. The continual, gradually, imperceptibly, and most hardships endured in Padan-aram; the sevegraciously extinguishes it altogether. rity, churlishness, and deceit of Laban, would
While this wound was still bleeding, the rise again to view. And almost every child, patriarch's heart is pierced through with an as he presented them one by one to his sire, other stroke, if not so acute, perhaps more must have suggested some mortifying and overwhelming. Reuben, his eldest hope, distressful circumstance to wring his heart
. raised and distinguished by Providence, placed Dinah, not in the bloom and dignity of virgin in the foremost rank among many brethren, innocence, but humbled and dishonoured, degrades and dishonours himself by the com- robbed of that which makes youth lovely, mission of a crime which modesty blushes to land age respected— Simeon and Levi, her
brothers, polluted with innocent blood, and which glow and shine upon the page of inReuben, his “ first-born, his might, and the spiration! with what delight and success beginning of his strength, the excellency of should we then speak, and with what pleasure dignity, and the excellency of power," stain- and profit should ye then lend a listening ed with incest-Judah, his fourth son, who had ear! begun to build up a family of his own, but it The story of Jacob, as it proceeds, teaches was by a Canaanitish woman,* whose pro- many useful lessons for the conduct of life; geny involved him in complicated guilt, and and opens many sources of religious instruccovered him with shame—Joseph and Benja- tion. Who would not rather be honest, unmin, fair as the opening blossoms of the ver- suspecting, believing Jacob, than dark, denal rose, and precious as the purple fluid signing, selfish Laban? And yet, who does which visited his sad heart-But alas! the not see the necessity of blending the wisdom highly valued stock which had shot forth of the serpent, with the harmlessness of the these two lovely branches, is prematurely dove? We mourn to think on the prevacut down and withered. His beloved Rachellence of those fiery and ungovernable pasis no more; and he is deprived of even the sions which separate, and scatter, and alienpoor consolation of reflecting, that her sacred ate those whom God and nature designed to dust slept in the same tomb with that of his ve- live together, and to love one another; and nerable ancestors. But to have the privilege of which robs human life of many instances of pouring his sorrows into the bosom of a father, felicity which might have been in it. Why was the alleviation if not the cure of them. should Isaac and Jacob have lived twenty And he, who by meditation, and faith, and years asunder, to their mutual discomfort prayer, had overcome the world, and lived so and distress? The vile spirit of this evil long in heaven, was well qualified for admi- world arose; the spirit of pride, emulation, nistering the vivifying cordial to the fainting ambition, avarice, fear, revenge, drove Jacob soul, to apply the sovereign balm to the ach- into a miserable exile; and left his father a ing heart of a son, who had been a still forlorn, forsaken, anxious blind old man. greater sufferer than himself.
Happy that poverty, which permits the But the calamities of neither the father parent and his child to cherish each other, nor the son are as yet come to a period ; and till the cold hand of death chill the heart. they have still to interchange sorrows for a Happy the obscurity which excludes envy; loss more bitter and oppressive than any and forces not a man to be an enemy to his which they have yet endured. For, in little own brother! more than six years from their re-union; We have seen in the patriarch, a man like while Isaac, now one hundred and seventy ourselves, “ bruised and put to grief;" the years old, was patiently looking for his dis- image of “one greater man,” “a man of sormission from this scene of trouble, and pre- rows and acquainted with grief," whose paring to enter the harbour of eternal rest woes commenced in the manger, and ceased he is driven back upon the tempestuous ocean, not till they were lulled to rest in the tomb. and dooined to toil and grieve ten years "The Son of Man" who “came not to be more of a weary life, deploring an affliction ministered unto, but to minister.”
66 The which admitted of no consolation, and which heir of all things” who emptied himself, and at length brought his white head with sor- voluntarily assumed “the form of a servant.” row to the grave. At this period it was, that " And they gave unto Jacob all the strange Joseph, beautiful and young, Joseph, the de- gods which were in their hand, and all their light of God and man, Joseph, the memorial | ear-rings which were in their ears; and Jaof Rachel, the pride of Jacob, the prop of cob hid them under the oak which was by Isaac's old age, disappeared, and was heard Shechem."* “ And Jesus went up to Jeruof no more, till many years after his venera- salem, and found in the temple those that ble grandsire slept in the dust.
sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the Jacob, sinking himself into the dust, under changers of money, sitting. And when he the pressure of a burthen which nature was had made a scourge of small cords, he drove unable to sustain, is at length called to per- them all out of the temple, and the sheep, form the last sad office of filial affection, and and the oxen, and poured out the changers to lay his hand upon the already extinguish- money, and overthrew the tables: and said ed orbs of his honoured father; willing, and unto them that sold doves, Take these things longing, I am persuaded, to have descended hence, make not my Father's house an house with him into the grave. But not the least of merchandise.”+ Jacob presented to his eventful part of his history is yet to come. father a numerous and thriving offspring; It will henceforward be blended with that of but many of them children perverse and corJoseph, which now solicits our attention. O rupted, their father's shame and sorrow. But could we but bring to the study and display when our spiritual Head shall present his of it, a small portion of that native simplicity, redeemed to “his Father and our Father, to that divine eloquence, that celestial energy, his God and our God,” saying, “ Here am I, * Gen. xxxviii. 2. 18. 24, 25, 26.
† John ii. 13-16.
* Gen. xxxv. 4.
and the children thou hast given me," the he may show mercy;" our “ Redeemer parental eye shall discern in them “neither liveth," " he is risen again, he is even at the spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing." Our right hand of God, he also maketh intercesFather in Heaven ever lives, "exalted that sion for us."
HISTORY OF JACOB AND JOSEPH.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age : and he made
him a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.GENESIS XXxvi. 3, 4.
The history of mankind exhibits an un- | lessons which it teaches; or the mighty ceasing contention between the folly and consequences, both near and remote, which wickedness of man, and the wisdom and resulted to the family of Jacob, to the Egypgoodness of God. Men are continually striv- tian monarchy, and to the human race, from ing to outdo, to mortify, and to hurt one incidents, at first insignificant and seeminganother; but a gracious Providence, by op- ly contemptible, but gradually swelling into posing spirit to spirit, interest to interest, magnitude, embracing circle after circle, force to force, preserves the balance, and extending from period to period, till at length supports the fabric. His sovereign power all time and space are occupied by them. and matchless skill, produce exquisite har Isaac was now as good as dead; calmly mony from the confused, the contending, looking forward to his latter end; alive only discordant tones of human passions. He to sentiments of piety and of pain. And controls and subdues a diversity, which Jacob was, through much difficulty and disthreatened disorder, separation, and destruc- tress, at last settled in the land wherein his tion, into a variety which pleases, which father was a stranger; increased in wealth, unites, which cements and preserves man- rich in children, rich in piety, but advanced kind. And a more consolatory, a more com- in years, and loaded with affliction. Jacob's posing, a more satisfying view of the divine family, the salt of the earth, was itself in a Providence we cannot indulge ourselves in, very putrid and corrupted state; and the than this merciful superintendence which it heads of the twelve tribes of Israel were condescends to take of the affairs of men, themselves very bad men.
The unhappy and of every thing that affects their virtue father endeavours to soothe the anguish or their happiness. The disorders which arising from the ill behaviour of his grownprevail in the natural world, under the sub- up sons, by the pleasing prospects which the duing hand of heaven, range themselves into more amiable qualities of his younger chilorder and peace. The convulsions which dren opened to him. shake and disturb the moral world, directed, The sacred historian introduces to us the checked, and counterbalanced by a power favourite character of Joseph with wondermuch mightier than themselves, subside into ful art and skill. From the very first mo- • tranquillity, through the very agitation and ment we become interested in him. He is violence they had acquired. Surely, O the long expected son of beauteous Rachel Lord, the wrath of man shall praise thee, -his mother was dead—he had now attainand the remainder of wrath thou shalt re- ed his seventeenth year—and he was the strain.” When the tumult is over, and the darling object of his father's affection. Janoise ceases, religion rears up her head, and cob's affection, however, has not blinded him says, in the words of Joseph to his brethren, so far, as to bring up even his favourite in "but as for you, ye thought evil against me, idleness. Little does that man consult either but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, the credit or the comfort of his son, who as it is this day, to save much people alive."* breeds him to no useful employment: for in
We are now come to a passage of the dolence is the nurse of vice, the parent of sacred history of uncommon beauty and im- shame, the source of misery. Unfortunately portance. Whether we consider the sim- for him, however, Joseph is associated in emplicity and grace of the narration, the affect- ployment with persons whose conversation ing circumstances of the story, the interest- was not likely to improve his morals, and ing and instructive views of the human heart whose dispositions toward him did not prowhich it unfolds, the many plain and useful mise much to promote his happiness; "the
lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the
* Gen. 1. 20.