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nary, in such different ages of the world, can hardly be accounted for, upon any other supposition. This has always been the general opinion of the christian community; and it is, no doubt, for this reason, that this XXIInd. chapter of Genesis, is appointed by our Church, to be read on Good Friday.
But though Isaac was thus preserved from being offered in sacrifice, still there remained a farther trial, of the patience both of the father and the son. In process of time, Isaac married; but notwithstanding the promise, which had been made to him, his wife continued barren for twenty years; and Abraham who was now apparently sinking into the grave, saw no prospect of the continuation of his race. But the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness * ; Isaac entreated the Lord, and Rebekah his wife conceived, and brought forth twins. The pious and faithful Patriarch, Abraham, survived this great event fifteen years, hav. ing seen that the promise of God standeth sure, and though it may seem to tarry, never fails. Isaac was at this time exactly of the same age, as Abraham was when he first received the promise, viz. seventy-five years.
* 2 Pet. iii. 9.
Froin the death of Abraham, to the death of
NOT long after the death of Abraham, it pleased God to renew his promise to Isaac, of temporal prosperity, and also, that from among his descendants the Blessing foretold to his father should proceed. But Isaac had two sons, and God had revealed to their Mother before their birth, (Gen. xxv. 23.) that the elder should serve the younger, and consequently that the descendants of the younger, should inherit the promise made to Abraham. This was farther confirmed, when Esau the elder brother, an impious and violent man, sold his birthright to Jacob the younger, for the trifling consideration of some pottage, to satisfy his hunger, on his return from hunting
Isaac however was either ignorant of these circumstances, or did not understand their tendency; for towards the close of his life, when the prophetic spirit came upon him, he still intended to confer the awful promise, on his elder son; but his wife Rebekah, knowing what had passed, and conscious of the determination of the Almighty, took advantage of the aged parent's blindness, so that instead of Esau, he blessed Jacob.
Here therefore was a still farther limitation, of the promise of a Redeemer. It was now confined to the seed of Jacob; and however it may seem to us, to have been obtained by deceit, Rebekah's conduct was such, as to further the designs of Providence. And indeed however blameable she may appear to us, as certainly in no case whatever, can falsehood be justifiable, it is no unusual thing, either in sacred or profane history, to find God bringing about his own purposes, through the means of bad persons. In the present instance Rebekah seems to have acted under the persuasion, that she was doing right* ; and Isaac, upon discovering the deceit, so far from cursing either her or Jacob, as the latter had feared, confirmed his blessing; and when he sent him away to PadanAram, voluntarily again besought God to give him the blessing of Abraham.
persuasion, * The case seems to be this; the promise itself was well known to all the house of Abraham. Esau cared not about it, he despised his birthright, (Gen. xxv. 31.) and therefore sold it for a trifle. Jacob earnestly coveted it, and Rebekah, forewarned by the Revelation at their birth, took worldly and wrong means to secure it to him, by deceiving his father, who ought to have bestowed the blessing willingly upon him. But he was infirm and almost blind, and partial to his eldest son, on account of his venison. This event convinced him, that Jacob was to be accounted luis eldest son, and entitled to all the privileges, annexed to that situation. There is an ingenious conjecture of the learned Dr. Lightfoot, that Isaac sent Esau to hunt for venison, that he might be assured whether God meant the blessing for him, or whether he had forfeited his privileges by selling his birthright. But the text seems to contradict . this idea. Isaac suspected the deceit and took every method of ascertaining the truth, and when it was discovered, he trembled rery exceedingly.