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have betrayed the innocent blood," said Pilate. "It is John whom I beheaded, he is risen from the dead," said Herod :-thus the guilty bosom, goaded by remorse, utters the acknowledgement it can no longer suppress. But think of the miseries of the worm that dieth not! Think of the torments inflicted by a memory, charged with sin, when the blackness of darkness has shut in the wretched victims of despair to everlasting commune with themselves! when all the past is spread in dreadful recollection before you, and you cannot forget it, and cannot turn from it, when the remembrance of scarlet and crimson-like sins is forced upon you-when reform is impossible, and the sinful revellings and vain pleasures, by which you once stunned the reproaches of your heart, are passed away for ever. How will you endure, or how escape? Ponder the question, and may it not be in vain. But, if adversity leads to that "godly sorrow which worketh repentance," what a blessing it becomes. "Because they have

no changes, therefore they fear not God," is the Psalmist's account of the impenitent; and the prophet confirms it, "Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled upon his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed." But the Lord often brings back a wandering prodigal to himself, by affliction of one kind or other. We are naturally self-ignorant and self-satisfied, and it is not till trouble comes, that we discover our deficiencies towards God, and the imperfection in our best duties; or have any strong sense of the evil of sin. Even true Christians, at such a time, and by means of such changes, are convinced of past sins, which they little suspected before, and learn more of the evil of their own hearts, their weakness and folly, than they would do in a whole life of prospe

rity. This is one of the principal lessons our hea. venly Father means to teach us in this world, that we may be thoroughly humbled; and that we may be prepared, when we get above, to cast our crowns before Him, and ascribe "Salvation to our God, which sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb."

V. 25. "Joseph commanded the money to be restored to his brethren." True generosity is cautious of wounding the feelings of others. Joseph could not allow his relations to pay for the food he provided them with, while he was living in plenty; he therefore had their money restored unto them, to save them the sense of obligation. This liberality was at his own expense; as appears from the steward's answer, when the brethren repeated their visit-"I had your money." Those who are ostentatious in giving, and anxious that the objects of their bounty should feel how much they owe them, would do well to consider Joseph's example.-"He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity."

V. 27. "As one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn," &c.At inns in Eastern countries, nothing is provided for the accommodation of travellers, neither beds, chair, nor table, nor even food for man and beast. So different are they from our English inns, that bare walls, where you may find shelter from the heat by day, or the cold by night, is all you must expect.

V. 29-34.They came unto Jacob their father." They must have returned with heavy hearts to him,-knowing, as they did, his affection for his children-what grief he would feel at Simeon's imprisonment-and how unwelcome would be the idea of sending his beloved Benjamin. They told, however, a plain unvarnished tale, without attempting to disguise Simeon's situation.

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V. 36. Jacob said, "All these things are against me. A very natural conclusion,-but not the judgment of faith-When their comforts drop away,

and they are threatened with the loss of those things in which they had placed their hopes of happiness, even the devout servants of God are tempted to say,' "all these things are against me."-But this is conferring with flesh and blood, instead of consulting the oracles of God,-it is walking by sight, instead of by faith. Why art thou cast down, thou sorrowing Christian? Why is thy soul so disquieted within thee? Is not the assurance given, under God's own hand, again and again, "It shall be well with them that fear God."-"All things shall work together for good to them that love God?"-Do you want more than this? More indeed is given you; "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things."-Glorify God by trusting his promise. Doubt not his word. You, yourself, would feel aggrieved, if one to whom you had promised protection, should fear you would shake him off in the hour of need-you would consider such mistrust an insult. Unwavering confidence, on the contrary, would please you. Repose then such confidence in God, who cannot lie. Let what will arrive, say, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him :" and, when ready to sink, remember Solomon's rebuke: "If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small."

T. B. P.

SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS.

NO. VI.-JACOB.

WE sincerely hope that our readers give good attention to the important lessons which these Scripture Characters afford. ED.

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Many useful lessons may be learned from a serious consideration of the character of Jacob. We shall find, in his history, much to condemn, and much to admire; shall note events which claim our sympathy with the sufferer, shall learn the evil of sin, and how surely it occasions woe; and thus derive, from the contemplation of the patriarch's character, instruction in righteousness.

The first circumstance of interest that claims our observation in the history of Jacob is his conduct towards his brother Esau in reference to "his birthright;" which is recorded in the twenty-fifth Chapter of the book of Genesis. Commentators are generally agreed that in the birth-right of Esau was comprehended not merely pre-eminence in his father's house, or "a double portion" of Isaac's substance; but also the paternal blessing which contained the promise of the seed in which" all nations of the earth were to be blessed t." And it is on this latter account that the Apostle to the Hebrews charges profaneness upon Esau for selling his birthright, because he sold the blessing of Abraham, and the promises of God; for it could not be reckoned profaneness in him to sell a mere temporal right. Now Jacob appears to have availed himself of an opportunity when Esau was feeble and faint, to secure that which his thoughtless and sensual brother too lightly esteemed. There was perhaps nothing blameworthy in Jacob's desire of the special blessings covenanted to Abraham and his seed; but there was much that was wrong in the manner in which he sought to secure them to himself. He ought not to have taken advantage of bis brother's necessity. "Behold," says Esau, "I am at the point to die, and what profit shall this birth-right do to me §."-No, if he saw him proHeb. xii. 16.

*Deut. xxi. 17.

+ Gen. xii. 3. § Gen. xxv. 32.

fanely offering to sell the privileges of his birthright, it was his duty to have dissuaded him from it. He was not without blame in this matter, and, as we shall see, in the following part of his history, God, so to speak, frowned upon his dishonesty and deceit. Reader, observe that the conduct of Jacob is recorded, and not commended. The authors of sacred history, with unparalleled fidelity, detail the defects as well as the virtues of those of whom they write. They do not hold them up as patterns, in all instances, for our imitation. We are to read, mark, and inwardly digest what they record, and thus learn to avoid their defects and vices, and to copy the virtues, by which their characters were adorned. All artful and deceitful policy is to be determinately shunned by every one calling himself a Christian. Defects and infirmities will be found in all: but hypocrisy and guile belong not to a believer's character. Reader, examine thyself. Hast thou a conscience void of offence in these matters? A double-minded man cannot be approved of God. No-it is written "the Lord will abhor the deceitful man *."-Let thy conduct, then, in all transactions be marked by honesty and sincerity. Remember it is our Lord Jesus of whom it is said" he left us an example that we should follow his steps," and of whom it is recorded "he did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth."

In the twenty-seventh chapter of the book of Scripture we have a sad illustration of the truth of the observation, that "one sin makes way for many." Jacob had taken advantage of his brother's infirmity to secure to himself his birth-right, and now we find the aged Isaac, uninformed of the profaneness of Esau, and of the subtilty of Jacob, preparing by an act of religious ceremony, or of a particular feast procured by his son's filial affection, to impart his bless

* Ps. v. 6.

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