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this perhaps explains the meaning of Elisha's Abraham's servant being arrived in Mesorequest at the rapture of Elijah, “Let a potamia, in search of a wife for Isaac, his double portion of thy spirit be upon me:" young master, providentially conducted, not as if he meant to ask, or expect, twice lights on Rebekah, the sister of this Laban, so much as Elijah had, but the share of an by the well of water. Having briefly unelder brother. Fourthly-The honour of folded his commission, and made her a prepriesthood resided then and for many years sent suitable to his master's rank and afafter, in the first born, and was justly con- fluence, she runs home to acquaint her residered as the first of privileges. Finally, lations of the adventure. Laban, instantly The promise of the Messiah," the first born attracted by the sight of the gold, and by the among many brethren," was entailed upon account he had heard, of the state in which the eldest son: and this was justly under-Abraham's servant travelled, very prudently stood to confer a dignity and lustre infinite-concludes, that such a connexion might be ly superior to all temporal blessings. The improved to very great advantage. Hence guilt of Esau consisted in undervaluing and that profusion of civility and kindness to an despising an advantage so distinguished.— entire stranger, “Come in, thou blessed of The offence of Jacob's fraud is greatly ex- the Lord, wherefore standest thou without ? tenuated, if not wholly extinguished, in the For I have prepared the house, and room for nobility and worth of the prize for which he the camels."* Did we not afterwards discontended. Behold him, then, retiring from cover him to be grovelling, greedy, and the presence of his deluded father, who had mercenary, this might have passed for the prescience sufficient to discern, at the dis- language of kindness and hospitality. But, tance of ages, the future fortunes of his fa- when the whole is taken in connexion, we mily, without sagacity capable of discerning see a man from first to last invariably attachthe imposture, which was, at that very in- ed to his own interest, employing his very stant, practising upon his credulity and want daughters as mere instruments of commerce, of sight. Behold Jacob retired, in possession and prizing nothing, but in proportion as it indeed of the blessing, but haunted with the ministered to his own advantage. terrors which eternally pursue
who Of all the passions of our nature, there is is conscious to himself, that he has acted none so steady, uniform, and consistent as wrong. He has gained the birthright, but this is. Avarice never tires by exercise, he has lost a brother. He has by subtilty never loses sight of its object: it gathers stolen away the prophetic benediction, but strength by gratification, grows vigorous by he has raised up against himself an implaca-old age, and inflames the heart, when the ble foe. The possession of nothing yields vital Huid can hardly force a passage through that satisfaction which we promised our it. What a feast for such a spirit, the conselves in it beforehand; and conscience will cluding scene of the marriage treaty for Rea not permit us to enjoy peaceably that which bekah? " The servant brought forth jewels we have acquired unworthily. His father's of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, blessing announced every kind and degree and gave them to Rebekah : he gave also to of prosperity, "the dew of heaven, the fat- her brother and to her mother precious ness of the earth, the servitude of nations things.”+ Such was the man, with whom and people, lordship over his brethren." But Jacob was now destined to spend a very conhe is instantly constrained to become an exile siderable part of his life; and whose treatand a wanderer from his father's house. And ment of him, in the eyes of the severest when he himself comes to make the estimate judge, may pass as a sufficient punishment of his own life, in the close of it-what is for the little fallacies which he had practised the amount ? “Few and evil have the days in his father's house. of the years of my life been.” His elder Behold then, in the covenant head and m brother is declared his inferior, but he has presentative of the holy family, “a Syrian by much the stronger arm of the two. And, ready to perish,” leaving the paternal roof while he is practising deceit upon his near- without an attendant, without a guide, with est relations in Canaan, Providence is silent- out a companion; more forlorn than his ly preparing the means of requiting him in grandfather Abraham himself. For the bitParlan-aram, in the person of one already a terness of his exile was alleviated by the near relation, and about to be much more company and conversation of his beloved closely allied to him, Laban the Syrian, a Sarah ; whereas, the affliction of Jacob's man much more cunning and selfish, and banishment was grievously increased, by much less scrupulous than himself. As this the consciousness that he had brought it upis a character which the inspired painter has on himself; and from the bitter necessity of delineated with peculiar felicity and skill, it enduring its wearisome days and nights by may now be necessary to look back for a himself alone. What could have supported few moments, and to observe the first open- a man in such circumstances ? A man, who ing of Laban's spirit and temper, as they ap- was attached to domestic life; a plain man, pear on the face of the sacred drama.
*Gen. xxiv. 31.
t Gen, xxiv. 53.
“abiding in tents ;" a man who had fondly firmity, of like passions with others," and fattered himself with the hope of power and whose faults are but the more conspicuous, tranquillity; who had dreamed of superiority from the honourable station, and employment over his brother, but had not attained unto to which they were called. It will follow, it? I can think of but one thing, that could Secondly; That the comparison is not to have rendered his lot supportable, as it then be stated and pursued through every particustood. Jacob, after all, was a good man.- lar incident of the life, and every feature of His conduct was not indeed pare and per- the personal character of the person who is fect, but his heart was right with God. He the type. Men of very different characters, had once and again been mistaken in the and in very different situations, typified the means which he had employed, but he had Saviour of the world. To suppose every all along aimed at the noblest and most im- article of their history, condition, and chaportant end : and, from the chagrin and dis- racter to be typical and prophetic, would appointment which ever attended the plans therefore, in many instances, involve absurdof his own devising, he had always a sure ity and contradiction. Samson, David, and and a satisfying refuge, in the wisdom and many others who might be mentioned, were mercy of God. In truth, he had not attain- eminent types of Christ; but then, the reed the knowledge of true practical, vital re- semblance holds only in certain great leadligion, in the house of even his father Isaac, ing circumstances: the miraculous concepin Lahai-roi : but he learns it in silence and tion, for example, the Nazaritic sanctity, the in solitude, in the plains of Luz. It is a good invincible strength, the solitary, victorious thing for a young man to feel his own weight, achievements, the triumphant death of the " to bear the yoke in his youth.” At case, former: the divine appointment and eleva, and in a multitude, we forget God-in retire- tion, the royal dignity, the providential sucment and danger, we learn and feel our de- cess of the latter, the subduing all the pendence, and call to remembrance a long- church's enemies; these and the like, are forgotten God.
the typical circumstances. But to pursue This is also a proper stage for resting on the resemblance throughout, to make every our way. We cannot lead our traveller action of Samson's or of David's life typical from home, till we have found for him a of something correspondent in the Messiah, place where to lodge. We cannot bear to would lead far beyond absurdity; it would see him from under the protection of the pa- issue in impiety and blasphemy. rental wing, till we are secure that he has Thirdly; Scripture by direct application, got another protector and friend, that " friend or by fair, unrestrained analogy, ought therewho sticketh closer than a brother."
fore to lead, to regulate, and to correct all Conformity to the plan we have proposed, our inquiries of this sort
. We shall else be and regard to the analogy of scripture, would in danger of rearing a baseless, flimsy strucnow lead us to exhibit the patriarch Jacob, ture in the clouds, which can afford 'neither as a type of the Messiah, to whom patriarchs shelter nor rest. When pleasant amusement and "prophets all give witness," and who alone is the object, invention and fancy may was specially prefigured by the son of Isaac. be allowed their full exertion. But when But, his story is not yet sufficiently ad- we aim at religious instruction, we must be vanced, to afford a foundation broad and solid contented to take the Spirit of God for our enough to support a comparison, such as a guide. And here too, men ought to be more extended view of the subject will fur- jealous and watchful over their own spirits ; nish, and such as might more rationally con- lest, in endeavouring to establish a favourite duce to the ends of edification. We deem system, and to justify or support preconit of more importance, at this period, to sub-ceived opinions, they give to their own wild mit to your consideration a few general ob- imaginations the solidity and weight of divine servations, respecting typical representation, truth, and, departing from the simplicity of and the proper use to be made of it. the gospel, presume to stamp the poor trash
First; In order to constitute a proper type, of their own brain with the sacred impress it is by no means necessary, that the person of God. It has often, and with too much who answers this important purpose should justice, been lamented, that many apply to possess perfect moral qualities. .Were this the Bible for a justification of the opinions requisite, who ever was worthy to represent which they have already formed, and which the Son of God, the holy Jesus, " who did no they are determined, at all risks, to maintain; sin, neither was guile found in his lips?" and not to receive the information which But as “the law maketh men high priests they need, and to rectify the prejudices unwhich have infirmity," though the law gives der which they labour. no countenanee to error or infirmity; so Finally; To determine the nature and Providence, “at sundry times and in divers propriety of typical representation, it is of manners,” raised up men to prefigure to importance to inquire, 'Whether or not the their eontemporaries an immaculate Saviour, resemblance which we mean to pursue, has who were themselves " compassed with in- la tendency to promote some moral, practical,
pious purpose? Does it inspire reverence, Should all, or any of these remarks seem wonder, gratitude, love to God; dependence to bear hard on any of the comparisons upon, and trust in him? Does it engage us which we have endeavoured to establish, we to study, to search, to love the scriptures ? are disposed cheerfully to relinquish the most Does it impress on the heart a sense of our favourite analogy, rather than seem, in the own weakness, ignorance, and guilt; and, of slightest degree, to misrepresent, disguise, or the deference, respect, and good will which pervert the truth. We mean not to wrest we owe to others? Or, is it made a minis- scripture to our purpose: but would make tering servant to vanity and self-conceit? our purpose with reverence bend to that Leads it our attention from practice to specu- sacred authority. We would not with salation, to theory from real life? Does it crilegious hands force out of the Bible, by place the essentials of religion in modes of violence and art, a scanty and unnatural crop; opinion and forms of worship; and, neglect- but by diligent cultivation and assiduous care, ing the heart, content itself with playing draw from it a plenteous harvest of what the about and tickling the imagination? The soil naturally produces. And, we now reanswer to these questions will decide the turn from this digression, to pursue the point. By its fruit, the tree is known. | history of Jacob.
HISTORY OF JACOB.
And Isaac sent away Jacob, and he went to Padan-aram, unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian ho
brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother. And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went towards Haran.- GENESIS Xxviii. 5. 10.
Ar what stage, or in what condition of the very next breath, feels himself constrainhuman life, can a man say, Now my heart is ed to pronounce sentence of dismission and at rest, now my wishes are accomplished, banishment upon him. “The whole ordering now my happiness complete? By what of the lot is of the Lord,” but “men themunaccountable, untoward circumstances is selves cast it into the lap.” Providence only the comfort of the worthiest, best ordered, brings that out, which, with our own hands, most prosperous families, oft times marred we first put in. and destroyed! Not through vice only do Jacob has by skill and address pushed we suffer, but up to some piece of impru- himself into the birthright, and by subtilty dence, or inadvertency; up to some trifling insinuated himself into the blessing. And infirmity in our nature, or some petty fault how do they sit upon him? Very uneasily in our conduct, our greatest calamities may indeed. His father's house is no longer a easily be traced. One man has made his home for him. Grasping at more than his fortune, as it is called, but he has impaired right, he loses what lie already had. Eagerhis health in the acquisition of it, or made ly hastening to preferment, without waiting shipwreck of a good conscience. Another for Providence, he puts himself just so much inherits a fine estate; but goes childless. farther back. And, seeking rule and preThere, we behold a numerous and promising eminence in his father's family, he finds serfamily of children; but the wretched parents vitude and severity in the house of a stranger. have hardly bread to give them: and here, If men will carve for themselves, they must both progeny and plenty ; but hatred, and not charge the consequences of their rashjealousy, and strife, banish tranquillity and ness and presumption upon God.
The heart of this child is corrupted Behold the pilgrim then, on his way, penthrough indulgence; the spirit of that one is sive and solitary; without so much as a fabroken by severity,
vourite, faithful dog, to accompany and to Isaac is wealthy, but his eyes are dim that cheer his wanderings. His whole inherihe cannot see. God has given him two sons tance, the staff in liis hand. Now, for the at once, but they are the torment of his life. first time, he knows the heart of a stranger. He is fondly partial to Esau; and Esau does Now he feels the bitter change from aftiuevery thing in his power to mortify and dis- ence to want, from society to solitude, from oblige his kind and indulgent father. He is security and protection to anxiety and danunwittingly drawn in to bless Jacob; and, Iger. More forlorn than Adam when expelled
from paradise, than Abraham when exiled every time of need. The strong hand of nefrom his father's house, he has no gentle cessity is upon our patriarch; submit he mate to participate and to soothe his anxie- must, and therefore he submits with alacrity. ties and cares.
And now behold the heir of Abraham and The Scripture assigns no reason, why of Isaac, without a place where to lay his Isaac's heir, and Rebekah's favourite son, the head; that head which maternal tenderness hope of a powerful and wealthy family, was had taken pleasure to pillow so softly, and to dismissed with such slender provision, wholly watch so affectionately. “He lighted upon a unattended, and unprotected too, upon a jour- certain place, and tarried there all night, beney, according to the best calculations, of cause the sun was set: and he took of the about one hundred and fifty leagues, or four stones of that place, and put them for his hundred and fifty miles, through a country in pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep." many places desert and savage, and in others
-"Sweet are the uses of adversity; no less dangerous, from the hostile tribes Which like the load, ugly and venomous, which inhabited and ranged through it. But
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head." the reason, though not directly assigned, is Jacob, removed from his earthly parents, plainly hinted at in the sixth verse of this is but the nearer to his heavenly Father; a chapter, which informs us, that Esau knew stranger in the waste howling wilderness, of this journey, as well as of the cause and he is at home with God. Cares perplex his intention of it. Jacob therefore may be sup- waking thoughts, but angels in bands lull posed to have stolen away secretly, and with his perturbed breast to rest; they guard, and out any retinue, and to have shunned the instruct, and bless his slumbering moments. beaten and frequented path to Padan-aram, in Who does not pity Jacob, as the evening order to elude the vigilance and resentment shades gather and close around his head ?of his brother, who, he had reason to appre- Who does not envy his felicity when the hend, would pursue him to take away his morning light appears, and with it, the recollife. And besides this, we may justly consi- lection of a night passed in communion with der both the errand on which he was sent, to God? Jacob sleeps, but his heart wakes.take a wife from an allied and pious family, What had been most upon his mind through to propagate a holy and chosen seed; and the day, continues to occupy and to impress the homely, solitary style of his travelling, his thoughts after his eyes are closed. Wonas a very illustrious instance of faith in God, derful, awful, pleasing power of God! which and obedience to his will, and that not in Ja- in the city and in the field, at home and abroad, cob himself only, but in his parents also, who awake and asleep, moves, direets, governs our could thus trust the sole prop of their family bodies and our spirits as it will. What lofty hopes, and of the promise, to dangers so great, heights is the mind of man capable of attainand distresses so certain, with no security ing! What wonders of nature and of grace but what arose from the truth, mercy, and is the great God capable of unfolding to it, faithfulness of God.
when delivered from the grossness of this The uneasy reflections arising from soli- clay tabernacle, or when joined to a spiritual tude, and inspired by a gradual removal from body; when we consider the astonishing the scenes of his youthful and happy days flights it is even now capable of taking, when must have been greatly embittered to Jacob, the duller senses are laid to rest, and their by the consciousness of his having brought influence suspended ! all this upon himself; by the keenness of dis Dreams are generally frivolous, meaning. appointment, in the very moment when the less, or absurd. But here is a dream worth spirits were wound up to their highest tone repeating, worth recording; whether we atthrough success; and by total darkness and tend to what was seen or what was said... uncertainty with respect to his future for- What was seen? “Behold a ladder set upon tunes. However, the cheerfulness of light, the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: the pleasing change and variety of natural and behold the angels of God ascending and objects as he journeyed on, the ardour and descending on it."! The circumstances of confidence of youthful blood and spirits, car- the dreamer, partly interpret the vision. Jary him with confidence and joy through the cob's holy desires, his faith and his prayers, day. But ah! what is to become of him now had ascended, as on angel's wings, up to the that the sun declines, and the shadows of the throne of God. Protection and favour, and evening begin to lengthen? Overtaken at comfort, descend from the eternal throne, as once by hunger and fatigue, and darkness through the ministration of angels, on Jacob's and apprehension, where shall he seek shel- head. The top of the ladder reacheth unto ter, how find repose? Happily, calamity heaven, but the Lord on high is above it. It strengthens that soul which it is unable to standeth upon the earth, but the eye ot'Jehosubdue. The mind, forced back upon itself, vah is at its foundation, and his almighty arm tinds in itself resources which it knew not giveth it stability. The cherubim and the seraof before, and the man who has learned to phim are not above his control and authority; seek relief in religion, knows where to fly in
Gen. xxviii. 12.
* Gen. xxviii. 11.
8. poor benighted pilgrim is not beneath his much to hear that the land which he then notice.
occupied with his weary limbs, as a wayThus, the great plan of the Divine Provi- faring man who continueth but for a night, dence, upholding all things, observing all should afterwards be given to him and to his things, subduing all things to his will, was seed for a possession. It was much to hear, feelingly conveyed to Jacob's mind, in this from the mouth of God himself, the blessed vision of the night. And in it, the world is assurance of protection through his journey, instructed, that however great the distance of success in his undertaking, and of a safe between heaven and earth, however inacces- return to his native home. It was much to sible that bright abode may be to flesh and hear of a posterity, innumerable as the sand blood, to celestial spirits it is but a few steps upon the sea shore, and spreading to the four of a ladder; before an omnipresent God, in- winds of heaven. But the essence of all these tervening space is swallowed up and lost; promises, the joy of all this joy, was to hear and, condescending mercy! sovereign grace the renewed, the reiterated proinise of a seed keeps that communication ever open, which descending from him, in whom “all the famithe malice of hell and the apostacy of man lies of the earth should be blessed.” What had well nigh interrupted for ever.
could Jacob ask? What had God to bestow, But I should have given you a very imper-more than this? fect interpretation of this mysterious dream, Here then the vision ends, and Jacob did I stop short in it, as merely a symbolical awakes. After the obvious, natural, and we representation of the plan of Providence. For trust, scriptural view, which we have atin looking into another part of the sacred re- tempted to give you of the subject, I shall cord, I find the same expressions and ideas not use your patience so ungratefully as to applied to a subject of peculiar concernment trespass upon it by going into a detail of the to the christian world. Christ, when entering wild waking dreams of paraphrasts, and Rabon the discharge of his public ministry, hav- bins, and pretended interpreters, on this pasing given Nathaniel a personal and convinc-sage of the sacred history. It is of more iming proof of his divine knowledge, adds,- portance to attend to our patriarch, restored, “ Thou shalt see greater things than these. with the morning light, to the perfect use of Verily, verily, I say unto you, hereafter ye his rational faculties, and making use of the shall see heaven open, and the angels of God admonitions and consolations of the night ascending and descending upon the Son of season, as a help to piety, and a spur to duty Man."* Here then is the true mystery of the through the day. There was something so ladder which unites heaven and earth. The singular, both in the subject and external Son of Man first descending to assume our circumstances of his dream, that he immedinature, to achieve in it the work of man's ately concluded, and justly, that it was from redemption; and then having finished the heaven. And is it not strange, that he who work given him to do, ascending triumphant- felt no horror at the thought of laying himly in glorified humanity, up to heaven again. self down to sleep in a desert place, under And, hehold here too, " The Lord standing the cloud of night, and alone, is filled with a above." The plan of salvation, as of Provi- holy dread when morning arose, at the thought dence, is the design of him " who worketh of being surrounded with God. “And he was all things after the counsel of his will."— afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place ! “Who in Christ Jesus hath abounded to- This is none other but the house of God: and wards us in all wisdom and prudence," and this is the gate of heaven."* And, if the viwho “in bringing many sons unto glory, hath sits of the Almighty, as a father and a friend, made the Captain of their salvation perfect be thus awful even to good men, what must through sufferings."
be the visitation of his wrath to the ungodly And who are they that ascend and descend and the sinner? along this mysterious scale? “He maketh Jacob arises immediately, and erects a mohis angels spirits, and his ministers a flame nument of such simple materials as the place of fire." " Are they not all ministering spi- afforded, to the memory of this heavenly vi. rits, sent forth to minister for thein, who shall sion, which he was desirous thus to impress be heirs of salvation."
for ever on his heart. The difference of the If what by Jacob was seen in vision at expression in the eleventh verse," he took Bethel be worthy our attention, no less me of the stones of the place, and put them for imorable and important are the things which his pillows," and in the eighteenth," he took le heard. It was much to hear a repetition the stone that he had put for his pillow and of the covenant of God with Abraham and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the Isaac, his fathers, ratified and confirmed to top of it,"t has given occasion to one of the himself. It was much to hear the blessing Jewish Rabbins to attempt a reconciliation ately pronounced over him by the prophetic by a fiction of his own brain. Jacob, he says, ips of his earthly parent, conveyed to his having chosen out just three stones over rar by a voice infinitely more sacred. It was night, to support his head, found them all | Heb. ii. 10. Ib. i. 7. Ib. i. 14.
| Verse 18
* John i. 51.
* Gen. xxviii. 17