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and evil. Without a moment's hesitation, he resolved to kill his brother in revenge for the injury he had received from him, and yet, in kindness to his dying father's feelings, to abstain from this act of violence till the aged eyes were closed in peace. All the traits of his life afterwards mentioned are strongly in his favour. What, indeed, could be more kind, or generous, or lovely, than his frank forgiveness of his brother, when years had passed away and the brothers met again? What more touching than to find that the last time that he is noticed to us, the last time, as far as we know, that the brothers met was when Esau sealed Jacob's pardon at their father's grave? These things, speaking so strongly to our feelings as they do, and connected, as they are, with the striking fact that all this kindness of nature was unable to recall to Esau the blessing which he had profanely rejected, seem expressly mentioned and brought to our notice, to teach us that such qualities as he possessed, however lovely, are yet quite insufficient. They teach us that though this ought to be done, there is something yet far higher and better which an immortal being ought not to leave undone; that when it hath been left undone, when the kind generous nature is left unsanctified by the working of God's Holy Spirit, and blindly follows the impulses of passion or of nature, it neglects opportunities which can never be recalled, and inflicts evils which can never be cured, alike upon others and upon itself, upon its peace on earth, and upon its hopes in heaven'.
! I would beg to refer the reader to a Sermon on the character of Esau, in the Volume lately published by Mr. Millar, to whom I rejoice to have this opportunity of offering the humble tribute of my respectful admiration, and
But that part of Esau's history which is more especially referred to in the text, enforces not on one class of men, but on all, a lesson which all, alas! want. It tells them that, while God in his mercy offers to us all the means of acquiring all the real blessings of this life, and, yet more, of sharing in the inestimable blessing of Redemption through Jesus Christ, in the means of grace, and the hope of glory, all this is offered for a time, and that if we neglect the things which belong unto our peace in this their day, they will afterwards be hid from our eyes.
When we would inherit the blessings which we rejected in earlier days, we shall ourselves be rejected, and shall find no place for repentance, though we may seek for it carefully with tears. It tells us too not only of goods lost, but of evils incurred from which nothing can save us; and seems to say to us in the solemn and impressive language of our great philosophical divine, that certain miseries naturally follow imprudence and wilfulness. Sometimes after the actions are forgot, these miseries come, not by degrees, but suddenly, with violence and at once. Things take their destined course, and the misery inevitably follows at its appointed time. Habits contracted even in youth, are often utter ruin. Men's real happiness or misery often depends on the manner in which they pass their youth. In many cases, the natural course of things affords us opportunities of advantage at certain times which we cannot procure when we will, nor even recall the opportunities if we have neglected them. And finally, if, during youth, men, like Esau, are indocile and self-willed, they suffer in their future life for want of those acquirements which they neglected the natural season of attaining, and find that there is a certain bound to imprudence, which being transgressed, there remains no place for repentance in the natural course of things'.
of my gratitude for the pleasure which I have derived from the frequent perusal of his truly Christian and philosophic Bampton Lectures. He sees the character of Esau in a point of view less favourable than I do.
How curious is it to look at the life of man with this regard! How singular is the contrast presented between that part of his lot which he does not chuse for himself, and that which he does! To the worldly eye at least how uncertain the one, to the eye even of faith how certain the other! How changing then, in one sense, how changeless in another man's whole being. Yea! how far even beyond the grave does this thought carry us! For how little and valueless is the one, after the hour of death, of what fearful, lasting, changeless import the other !
Let us consider a few instances in which we may clearly see that there is no place for repentance of the lot we choose for ourselves, even though we seek for it with tears. And learning thence the fearful consequences of our choice, let those of us who have not yet made it, pray to Him, of whom alone comes all power and strength to think or choose or act as we ought, to give us grace in the day of our trial, that we may not store up for ourselves in this world the bitter sting of unavailing sorrow, nor the fearful doom that awaits "the sinner in his own place, in the
"See Bishop Butler.
place which he has chosen for himself, in the unchanging mansions beyond the grave.
Among the lessons of experience, there is none which we are longer in learning than that which explains the unavoidable consequences of even our most trifling actions.. It seems, indeed, so easy till we know nothing of the i practical workings of things, to recall a trifling step, and so much must, in reasoning, appear to be within our own power, that we are at a loss to understand why this is not so in practise. We confound, I suppose, what is impossible in the nature of things, with what becomes, in common parlance, impossible, from its extreme difficulty. or improbability under the present constitution of man' i We do some act, so trifling that we can hardly conceivethat it can have any consequence. If, indeed, it seemed likely to have any evil effects, we might, as far as the nature of things goes,
But either we do not foresee any such effects, or the evil is so small, that our dislike to trouble, or to appear unstable and inconsistent, prevails, and we leave it. Another actor appears on the scene, and approves or blames. Following the common course of our nature, we accept the praise, or :: defend ourselves against the blame, and then the thing is. sealed for ever. The new actor on the scene introduces it to the notice of more: its importance becomes more? developed every day; and by that almost mysterious interlinking of things with one another, which is the law. ) of human society, it weaves itself in with new interests like a budding tree puts forth every day new shoots al and new leaves, strengthens itself by throwing its :3 tendrils round every object within its reach, and sends **
at once its roots deep into the earth, and its head? aloft to the sky. We overlook its workings for a time for a time we look at them with carelessness; and then regard them with an almost stupid wonder that such things can have grown up disregarded within our reach, before our eyes, or below our feet, and we cry out with the Apostle, “Behold! how great a matter a little fire kindleth.”
All this time, what impossibility was there at any given moment, in the nature of things, to stop the whole? None, assuredly; but there was all the time what amounted to an impossibility, in the certainty that men will almost always, under similar circumstances, act nearly alike, and that under all circumstances, the dislike of trouble, and the fear of reproach, will produce their due and destined effect, according to the laws which! God has laid down for the progress and well-being of human things.
It was under feelings like these probably that the wise man has advised us to leave off contention before it be meddled with,' and has reminded us that the beginnings of strife are like the letting out of waters. The floodgates might have been kept down, but when they are once up, it is beyond human wisdom and human might to stay the . force and the course of the torrent. The slander, for :: example, which we utter carelessly and without enquiry to-day, is to-morrow beyond all recall. We might have suppressed the fire while it was in one place but it is far beyond us to move from point to point, and trample on every particular spark. So one or other of them smoulders on and breaks out at last into a destructive