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A Study of Divine Grace.

“The God of Jacob is our refuge." W. infinitely hopeful is the name “the hunting, he has returned unsuccessful, and,

God of Jacob !” It is from no sense having fasted long, is consequently unusually of satisfaction in the character of the man irritable and reckless. that the Great Father of Mankind would be Naturally enough, he asks his brother to known by this name; rather is it as a physi- share with him the lentil broth; and now we cian might be known in connection with learn the jealousy which fills Jacob's heart. some dreadful disease and its complete cure. The brothers were twins, and yet it seems As in such a name would be the physician's that admittedly the birthright belonged to honour and the sufferer's hope, so in this Esau, and it also seems that Jacob had not name is seen what is the true glory of God quietly acquiesced in his brother's right, but and the hope of the world.

that he had contemplated sharing, if not The facts narrated concerning Jacob are entirely possessing, the inheritance. From few and far between. Apparently when a what we know of Isaac's love for Esau, we youth, we find him in the family tent, just may well believe that this dispute had been sitting down to a savoury bowl of pottage definitely settled by the father's expressed when Esau enters. His brother has been opinion. In Esau's mood, the cold and calculating Jacob sees an opportunity of induc- heart in asking his father's and his brother's ing him to part with the coveted birthright; forgiveness. No, he is expecting much, and and so anxious was he, that he made his of that much he promises à liberal tenth-a generous, though reckless, brother swear that, promise, too, he never kept till the time in return for the "mess of pottage,” he would when he had become a changed man. He is give up the inheritance. Here Jacob shows a bargain-maker with God-amid the hopeful himself as a mere bargain-maker.

light of angels' wings, the solemn silence of We turn away from that scene with none the Eternal. of the pleasantest opinions of Jacob's charac- Nor had he, apparently, altered when he ter. And now years pass away, and when left Laban's service, where he had had, for in middle life, even when seventy-seven years twenty years, his own measure meted out to old, we find Jacob taking advantage of the him, craft for craft, cunning for cunning. blindness of his old father, and by a course When he left Syria, his family were idolaof such deceit as has seldom, if ever, been tors, and they were following his own exparalleled in the sad annals of human per- ample. His favourite wife stole the housefidy, gaining by appalling wickedness the hold gods of her father, and then she told blessing from a father whom he supposed to him a lie to hide them! be dying. We watch him leave the encamp- Now God commands him to go to Bethel. ment at Hebron without one expression of Though it was the place of the forgotten vow, regret-nay, his very permission to go was we hear nothing of sorrow,or humble, renewed obtained from Isaac by another lie.

dedication. But only one craven thought The third night he is sleeping on the hill- fills his heart—the fear of Esau ! He had side close to Luz. Cunning people are al- not even enough faith to argue that if God ways suspicious; he would not trust him- told him to go to Bethel, he would surely self to the Canaanites in the town; he slept arrive there in safety, and therefore, some in the woods which clothe the sides of the way or other, he would be preserved from valley, with a stone for his pillow.

Esau's just wrath. No one would venture to say that that Of course it may be said this is a very man was a religious man. As far as we have improbable view of a man's character with his character before us, it is without one re- whom God dealt so intimately. But miracles deeming trait, except, perhaps, there are —and the revelation of God is a miracletraces of love to his mother. The name of do not necessarily convert men. Balaam was God, as far as we know, has not been upon not saved, Judas was not saved, Malchus, as his lips, except when he ventured to use the far as we know, was not saved. It is the great name, which was “the fear of his law, as enunciated by the Lord Jesus Himfather," to support his deceit.

self, that it the ordinary means- -Moses and And yet, wicked as he was, that God who the Prophets—will not arrest men, even a wills not the death of a sinner, saw that preacher from the dead cannot. The story Jacob was capable of change, and therefore is given to show the marvellous patience of He dealt with him. The strata still crop out of God with one so slow of heart to believe. the sides of the hill of Bethel, so as to give But twenty years of hard discipline cannot the hill profile the resemblance of mighty pass over a man and leave him untouched. steps. It was the last impression on Jacob's Jacob was now close upon one hundred years eye, and he dreamt of that hill-stair towering old, and the voices of his heart had graduabove him into heaven. God peopled his ally become silent, and when the great fear dream with angels, and then God's own words came upon him he trembled. Esau was reached him from the light into which the coming with four hundred men-no other angels went! He seems touched, but not word did the messenger bring back, there softened ; "he is greatly afraid," and he was nothing to indicate his brother's insays “he knew not that God was” in that tention-and of course a guilty conscience place, and one feels inclined to add, if he had feared the worst. known it, he would have sooner trusted him- If there be a soft and tender place in a self to sleep in Luz.

heart, it is generally enlarged by sorrow. How cold and bargaining is his rejoinder Apparently, years ago, the only pleasant to the gracious and magnificent promise—he feature in his character was love to his will trust God provided God helps him in mother. That tenderness his love for Rachel his straits! There is no heartiness, no and his children had nurtured, and it had real surrender of himself, no shame, no offer glowed the more because of the cold winds to to go back to Hebron and pour out a broken which, for twenty years, he had been exposed.

So it seemed that more for “the mother name Israel, and use it; which was, to make and the little ones” he feared than even for an open profession that he was going from himself. His character had improved, and henceforth to serve God. This he did, and now, what can he do, where can he turn? He began to "order his household after him," by cannot cope with four hundred armed men. collecting all the strange gods, the idols, He has only one refuge. It was the refuge and making the daughters of the tribe give which is always open. “The name of the up their finery, their earrings, and he buried Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth them in the earth beneath the oak in his into it, and is safe.” But, alas ! a man who own field in Shechem. Then he went up to has made no religious profession in his Bethel to worship. Yes, a man may so family finds it a very difficult matter to begin. “ order his household ” that they may have How many a man would have family prayers, family prayers and go to church; he may if he dare but make a beginning! It was repress this and command that, but he a meaning requirement which caused the cannot alter hearts and habits which have cleansed leper not to go to his own tent for grown with years of growth. Jacob's sons seven days. It is easy to be religious any had not met God, and they remained as their where but at home. It was so, that when father's example had made them. Jacob felt he must meet God, and beseech But I take it to be the great lesson of His help, he could not call his household | this last history of Genesis, to show that the about him to join with him in supplication. effects of a past bad example may be undone, But alone, he recrossed the Jabbok, and the misspent time may be redeemed. If this there, unseen by any human eye, he cast his were not possible, what a burden of sorrow a burden on the Lord. God was ready to man who had turned round with his face draw near to him—far closer than he ex- heavenwards would carry to his grave ! pected, and as an angel wrestled with him all Israel saw the wickedness of his sons ; night. At length, with a disjointed hip, he Dinah's disgrace, Simeon and Levi's treawould wrestle no longer; and it was then, cherous cruelty, Reuben's shameful sin-all when he could only helplessly cling, that he fell upon his heart; but the record only prevailed.

says of the one, “And Jacob held his peace, The morning rose upon Jacob with new- and of the other, “And Israel heard it.” ness of life. No man can deal as closely Very difterent would have been his action if with God as he had dealt and remain an those troubles had come upon him before he unchanged man. Jacob that night was what was at Penuel. we call converted; he was a changed cha- Seeing that his sons were unfit to carry racter, and, to indicate that great change, God down the great spiritual blessings which God altered his name. He was to be henceforth had given to his fathers, he determines to called Israel.

make Joseph his heir. This boy had only One hundred years of habit is not easily known Israel; he was not old enough to broken. He passed over the river again, remember much of Jacob. His father proand came to his company. How he ex- claimed his intention by the coat with long plained his lameness, or whether he told sleeves which he gave Joseph to wear, indicatthem of what had transpired since last he ing that he was to be the gentleman of the saw them, we know not. But one thing is family. He was to do no work. No wonder clear—he said nothing of having now a new this aroused the jealousy of his brethren; name. He did not say he was a changed and, finally, having an opportunity of getting man, and was going to live a new life. Esau rid of him, they sold him into Egyptian met him, and his fears proved groundless. slavery. When Adoni - bezek sat looking Now he ought to have gone up to Bethel. at his bleeding hands and feet after they What hindered him? The ungodliness of had cut off his thumbs and great toes, he his family. He had set them a bad example applied to himself a great law of God, “ As all his life, and they had all followed it; I have done, so hath God requited me." there was no fear of God amongst them. Most sins carry with them their own punishIsrael felt, with the horror of that pressure ment. The craft with which Jacob had still upon him, that he dare not take his cheated his father showed itself in his whole family to Beth-el—the house of God, the nature ; his sons had learnt the lesson, and gate of heaven-until they were in a fit state now they use craftiness in turn, and how to worship so great and terrible a God. To hard and villainous a set of men they were hasten his determination God appeared to you may reckon, when they could sit down him again, and commanded him to take his to eat bread upon the edge of the well into

which they had cast their brother, and then angry feelings towards the father's favourite. deliberately watch the heart-broken grief of One more trial establishes his growing contheir father for days, nay, for years, and viction. His silver cup is placed in Benjanot one amongst them would come forward min's sack, and the steward of his house is with the palliating truth !

sent after the brothers, with the order that But Israel lived on a consistent and a holy he in whose sack the cup was found should life. There is no preaching like that of ex- remain in Egypt a bond-slave to the grand ample; that must tell sooner or later, and in vizier. Here was an admirable opportunity seventeen years the example of the father to have got rid of Benjamin, had they had changed the sons.

been so minded. But they all return, and When in the ninth year of Joseph's reign Judah, in language whose touching pathos in Egypt his brethren presented themselves has never been equalled, besought the “lord before him as grand vizier, there was only one of the country” for his brother's freedom. question to be solved ere he could bring them This was proof enough, the men were no down to enjoy the good of the land of Egypt, longer the sons of Jacob; they were, as the and that question was, “Were the sons of record styles them, the sons of Israel. The Jacob the same jealous, unscrupulous, violent consistent example of a pious father had men they used to be?” To devise a mode been, by God's grace, the means of influencof solving this query, Joseph “ put them in ing his family; the past was undone, and ward” for three days, when, having completed now Israel could say, "I have ordered my his plan, he ordered them to be brought household after me.' And if the powerful before him.

influence of Israel's holy life needs a further He felt that after his supposed death, Jacob confirmation, we have it in the love of the would probably make Benjamin his heir. Egyptian people. They followed his coffin Had these men managed to get rid of Ben far on its way to Machpelah ; and when the jamin, as they had got rid of him? He “ very great company, all the servants of would send them back to bring his younger Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the brother, that he might see him for himself. elders of the land of Egypt, with chariots How money-loving they used to be! Joseph and horsemen,” came to the theshing-floor ordered, therefore, that their money should of Atad, they “mourned ” with no hireling be returned in their sacks' mouth.

cries, but “with a great and sore lamentaIn due time they returned, bringing both tion." their younger brother and their money-facts Egypt had lost a friend, nay, more than a which spoke to their improved condition. friend; from amidst them had passed a great At the feast to which Joseph invited them and holy man, whose godly life had been a he ordered that five times more dishes power for good and an object of affection should be placed before Benjamin, giving throughout all the land of Egypt. him a greater choice, and honouring him Such are the triumphs. What testimony above the others. Joseph watched and list- of grace—a mystery and a hope—is this ened; but no look, no word of jealousy, name of our God, "the God of Jacob”. escaped them. It was evident they had no “the God of Jacob is our refuge" !


Glimpses of the Marvels of the Human Frame.



, can plants in being able to feel and to move called animals. Man, who in one sense is by the action of their will. Many animals only “a little lower than the angels,” in have, it is true, a very small amount of feel- another sense is merely the highest of all the ing, and many have very little power of animal creation ; and he too feels and moves. moving as they choose. The lovely sea- True, he does much more; he wills, and anemones which we find waving their arms thinks, and reasons; he recognises the exin the rock-pools on the coast feel very little, istence of a Power mightier than his own, and cannot move from place to place; but I and he adores and worships.

If by any

We want now to consider the way in which it sends out its orders also by means of we feel and move. If we wish to move from nerves. In the case of the burn which has place to place, as soon as the thought comes been mentioned, a telegram of pain has gone into our head, we move our legs, our arms, from the finger tips to the brain, and a teleour whole body, as a result of the thought. gram has been despatched by the brain to Sometimes, however, the movement is not all the muscles needed to move the hand : brought about by a thought, but by a feeling. “ Pain, not to be endured; hand, to be at If a man without knowing it were to put his once removed.” The messages thus brought hand on a hot stove, the feeling of heat are protective ; they tell the brain that miswould make him lift up his hand suddenly. chief is being done, and the brain interferes But what has happened to him in the mean to prevent it. If the pain be, however, one time? Two things. He has had a feeling that is being inflicted for good, as the pain of painful heat; and the feeling has caused which a lancet in a surgeon's hand would him to move his hand. Now, if we were to give, our brain receives the message of the examine the skin of the hand, possibly we suffering limb, but replies, “ Bear the pain.” might find a blister, if the iron had been very Sometimes we read that an accident has hot. The skin which rises up in a blister happened to a telegraph wire, and it is may be cut without our feeling any pain. broken. Then we know no messages can But if by chance the point of the scissors pass along it; neither from out-post to head were to touch the skin which is underneath station, nor from head station to out-post. the blister, a sharp feeling of pain would It is so, also, with our nerves. come, and we should probably jerk the hand chance a great nerve were cut through, all away. We see now that the message of pain the parts below the cut through which the begins under the outer skin. In the inner branches of that nerve run would be withskin there are small beginnings of nerves. out both feeling and power of controlling The prick of a needle brings blood and causes its movement. Suppose the nerve which pain, because a capillary and also the end of runs down the inner portion of the arm a nerve have been wounded by it. From by the elbow to the little and ring-finger the little nerve ends very small nerve fibres to be the one injured, then we might cut or can be traced ; and these—as several little burn these fingers, but we should feel no pain. strings are twisted together to make one The message would only go from the ends thicker string—are found uniting together to of the nerves so far as the place where the form cords or nerves, which grow larger as nerve was cut; the central office of the brain more fibres come together. In the case of would not receive it—would not be conscious the hand these nerves run up the armi, pass of it, and we should feel no pain. This into the body at the shoulder, and, in the shows that it is the brain which is the centre end, pass into the great nerve which runs of our feeling. Moreover, a message might be through our spine, and which is called the sent from the brain bidding the muscles that spinal cord. The nerves of the legs are joined move these fingers lift them away; but that to the lower part of this cord, and those from message, too, would not reach its destination the trunk of the body to the central parts because of the cut, and we should say that of its length At the top of it there is the the power of movement was gone.

When great nerve mass of the brain, which lies in injury to a nerve has taken away


power the skull.

of feeling and the power of voluntary motion The nerves have now been spoken of as from any part of the body, we say that part coming to the spinal cord and the brain from is paralyzed. Pressure upon a nerve will for all parts of the body; but we may also speak a time produce a feeling of deadness. We of them, if we choose, as going out from know the dead feeling in the leg when we the brain and spinal cord. To use a com- have been sitting so as to press on the mon and very true figure of speech, the nerve that runs down the leg, and the feeling brain is like a great central telegraph office. of “ pins and needles," which becomes more Lines of communication go out from the acute when we try to move the leg. central office all over the country, which not The message along the nerves moves very only bring messages to the centre from the slowly as compared with one sent by a real outlying stations, but take messages out telegraph. The proof of the comparative again. Our brain is the head office, in more slowness with which the message is carried senses than one. It receives news of what is this, that while the messages are being is going on in the outer world by means of taken to the brain from the hand and back messages which the nerves bring to it; and again the time is long enough to let the fingers

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