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THE MESS OF POTTAGE.
As the boys advanced to manhood, their opposite dispositions were more fully developed. With thewildness of Esau's disposition, there also appeared a recklessness of holy things, a forgetfulness or contempt of Jehovah and his promised blessings.
But Jacob had too earnestly listened, and Abraham had too faithfully imparted the history of God's dealings with his family, to feel indifferent to them, or faithless of their future fulfilment. And often would he sigh when he reflected that he was the younger, and therefore these blessings would be given to mankind and to his father's family through Esau ; not knowing that, before they were born, it had been said to his mother, “ The elder shall serve
the younger.” So much did his mind dwell upon this subject, that he resolved to bring about his desire.
One day Esau returned from hunting, faint, and weary ; for he had pursued the flying deer from the moment the sun had made his appearance above the eastern horizon, until he had quenched his burning light in the azure waters of the great sea. As he entered the tent, laden with spoil, he saw Jacob seated on the ground, with a mess of pottage before him; but though it stood before him, he had not partaken of the evening meal. His eyes were fixed upon the beauteous heavens, as though lost in admiration of its rich and varied hues. Yet such was not the case, for he saw not those glowing skies nor aught else of the fair creation spread around him. His whole soul was absorbed in the contemplation of the blessings in store, as he imagined, for his brother! and an earnest longing to transfer them to himself.
He saw not his brother enter the tent, and heard not the sound of his footsteps as he approached him. “Give me, I pray thee, thy pottage,” he exclaims, "for I am faint.”
Suddenly an evil spirit suggests to Jacob to take advantage of Esau's present necessities. Instead, therefore, of offering him with brotherly tenderness, a portion of his meal, he exclaims, “Except thou sell me, this day, thy birthright, I will not relieve thy want."
But will Esau listen to this proposal ? Will he for the paltry consideration of a mess of pottage, part with so high, so precious, so inestimable a privilege as his birthright? Will he not rather suffer any amount of hunger and privation, and indignantly spurn the proposition ? Alas ! No! Esau possesses not faith; he does not believe that Jehovah will ever fulfil this pro
he exclaims with sinful petulance, “Behold, I am at the point to die, and what profit shall this birthright be to me ?"
So he sware to Jacob that every blessing which might, by his birthright, properly descend to himself, he would, for the sake of the pottage, transfer to him. And he sat down and eat, and drank. And he rose up again and went his way without one thought of regret, or one sigh for what he had done. “ Thus Esau desPised his birthright.”
But think not, Esau, that because now thy hardened conscience is at rest, that it will ever
Think not that thy despite of the Spirit of God will never cost thee a tear. Many many torrents of tears and bitter sighs, and
strong crying and tears” are in store for thee, yet will they not avail to bring again the blessing thou hast so wantonly despised and lightly cast from thee as a thing nothing worth.
A year after this event God sent a famine upon the land of Canaan, and Isaac went down into Gerar, where his father Abraham had formerly gone when famine afflicted the land wherein he sojourned. Thence would he have gone down into Egypt; but God prevented him commanding him to remain in Gerar, and repeating all the promises He had formerly given to Abraham upon the condition that he would maintain the faith and piety of his father. Here Isaac fell into the same
error that Abraham had formerly done ; he denied his wife, saying, “She is my sister.” But at length Abimelech discovered the fraud, and sent for Isaac and rebuked him for his deceit. He remained in this couutry until his riches increased so greatly that the Philistines envied his possessions, and Abimelech commanded him to depart lest he should become mightier than they. So he removed to the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there; but the herdsmen strove with him for wells of water which he had made, and drove him from place to place until he came up to Beersheba. There the Lord again appeared to him, and he built an altar, and called upon the name of Jehovah.
Mark the pious care of these holy Patriarchs. Their first occupation, before finding folds for their flocks, or shelter for themselves, is to raise an altar to the Lord round which they may assemble to worship, and offer upon it their united prayers and praises. A restingplace for their souls is provided, which may
be more sacred than the family hearth-sacred though that be; a place peculiarly hallowed, and set apart for the worship of Jehovah with dedicatory prayers, which render it so sanctified that He vouchsafes to be ever after specially in that place; and resents with special vengeance any indignity offered to it.