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he ever done, that his soul should be in any danger? He had, indeed, been rather free in his inquiries : but then, truth was his object ! Thus Esrom reasoned ; and thus he felt too. He had not borne " the yoke in his youth.” Like Moab, he had “ been at ease, from his youth ;” and thus, his conscience had never been confronted with the terrors of the Law or Eternity. Nothing had ever disturbed his self-complacency, until Rachel's penitence, on hearing the parable of the Grapes of Gomorrah, compelled him to pause and ask himself,
“ If Rachel weep, can I be right, or altogether safe? Her spirit is both purer and humbler than my spirit : and yet she trembles before God! Is this wisdom or weakness, on her part ? Weakness! Who ever saw Rachel weak ? Her spirit has towered in strength and majesty, ever since its roots, like the cedars of Lebanon, 'dipped their feet in the oil' of the olive valley. Can I be safe—if she was in danger until then ?" This question went to his heart : and whilst it lodged there, Rachel was won, and Sheshbazzar conciliated, and Esrom himself somewhat humbled. Still, his “eye was not single.” It caught occasional glimpses of the genius of Judaism, as the religion of a sinner, and as the shadow of good things to come; but it never looked steadfastly to the substance of the system, nor to the simplicity of his own motives. He became a great “ doer of the law,” just that he might be a less debtor to the covenant. He threw the whole weight of his influence into the Synagogue ; but chiefly, that he might conciliate the Elders to Rachel. He beautified the building, and placed new copies of the Law upon the desk; but not until he found out that Rachel was preparing splendid hangings, of her own needle-work, for the Tabernacle.
He often led the choir, when the great HOSANNAH was sung, if Rachel was present : but when she was not there, his voice was sure to be out of tune, owing (as he said) to his being out too early amongst his reapers, or too late amongst his sheepfolds, in a day of rain. Thus his eye was not single, even when his hand was most active and liberal.
Rachel was the first to discover his mixed
motives, and not slow to arraign them. With equal promptness and point, she asked him, when his mantle of " flax and wool,” would be ready to wear before the Lord in Zion ? and, why he did not offer “ swine's blood,” as well as the firstlings of his flock, at the altar? Her Parable, as she applied it, told upon his conscience, as “ The Grapes of Gomorrah” did upon her own. He was shocked by the discovery of his mixed motives ; and, from that time, began to pray, “ Unite my heart to fear Thy name.” The impiety of serving the CREATOR for the sake of the creature, unveiled to him all the ungodliness of his spirit; and made him smite upon his breast, in all the bitterness of self-condemnation. Sheshbazzar had marked this revolution, and resolved to train Esrom for the ELDERSHIP of Beersheba ; and as his own successor in the guidance of the pilgrimages to Jerusalem. For this he had often "wrestled until the break of day," with the Angel of the Covenant. For this, he had long watched and prayed daily. It was to this he referred, when he said to Esrom, in the wilderness, “ But for your sake Rachel would not have been restored."
He repeated this in the tent; and added, “ The Shepherd of Israel intends thee to feed His sheep and lambs, and therefore he will spare the help, 'meet for' thee.
Thou art not fit to be trusted alone yet, with such a charge. Thou couldst not be calculated upon for prudence or fidelity, if thy betrothed were taken away at this time. It is not, therefore, for thy merit she is spared ; but in pity to thy weakness, and in consideration of the work thou art called unto. Give thy heart to that work, from henceforth ; and thus render unnecessary such visitations as I incurred. God had to write me 'childless, and then widower' before I gave
my heart to His glory. He had to make my soul forget prosperity, before I would identify my interests with His cause, or seek my happiness in the good of His heritage.'”
Then, turning to Rachel, who sat leaning her head upon the ark of her covenants, the old man said, “Rachel, I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet; but I have studied the past, and thus can anticipate the future, in some of its certain wants.
It will always