Images de page

they were born. Jacob was loved before he was born, consequently before he was capable of doing good; and Esau was hated before he was born, consequently before he was capable of doing evil. It may be asked why God hated him before he sinned personally; and human wisdom has proved its folly, by endeavouring to soften the word hated into something less than hatred; but the man who submits like a little child to the word of God, will find no difficulty in seeing in what sense Esau was worthy of the hatred of God before he was born. He sinned in Adam, and consequently was worthy of God's hatred as well as Adam. There is no other view that will ever account for this language and this treatment of Esau. By nature he was a wicked creature, conceived in sin, although his faculties were not expanded, nor his innate depravity developed, which God who hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and hardeneth whom he will, and who giveth no account of his matters, did not see good to counteract by his grace, as in the case of Jacob, who originally was equally wicked, and by nature a child of wrath, as well as Esau.

It is not unusual to take part with Esau who was rejected, against Jacob who was the object of Divine favour. Every thing that can

be made to appear either amiable or virtuous in the character of Esau is eagerly grasped at, and exhibited in the most advantageous light. We are told of his disinterestedness, frankness, and generosity; while we are reminded that Jacob was a cool, selfish, designing man, who was always watching to take advantage of his brother's simplicity, and who ungenerously and unjustly robbed his elder brother of the blessing and the birthright.

This way of reasoning, however, shows more zeal for the interest of a cause than discretion in its support. Instead of invalidating the truth it opposes, it only serves to confirm it. While it is evident that Jacob possessed the fear of God, which was not the case with respect to Esau, and, therefore, that the one was born of God, and the other was a child of nature; yet there is so much palpable imperfection and evil in Jacob, as to make it manifest that God did not choose him for the sake of the excellence of his foreseen works. In maintaining, then, the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, it is by no means necessary to vindicate the conduct of Jacob towards his brother. Both he and his mother were undoubtedly to blame, much to blame, as to the way in which he obtained, to the prejudice of Esau, his father's blessing; while the revealed purpose of

God formed no apology for them. That sin is an evil thing and a bitter, Jacob fully experienced. His conduct in that transaction led him into troubles from which he never got disentangled. While Jacob was a man of God, and Esau a man of the world, there is enough to show us that the inheritance was bestowed on the former, not of works but of grace.

Nothing can more clearly manifest the strong opposition of the human mind to the doctrine of the Divine sovereignty, than the violence which human ingenuity has employed to wrest the expression, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. By many this has been explained, Esau have I loved less. But Esau was not the object of any degree of the Divine love, and the word hate never signifies to love less. The occurrence of the word in that expression," hate father and mother," Luke, xiv. 26, has been alleged in vindication of this explanation; but the word in the last phrase is used figuratively, and in a manner that cannot be mistaken. Although hatred is not meant to be asserted, yet hatred is the thing that is literally expressed. By a strong figure of speech, that is called hatred which resembles it in its effects. We will not obey those whom we hate, if we can avoid it. Just so if our parents command us to disobey Jesus Christ, we will not obey them; and this

is called hatred, figuratively, from the resemblance of its effects. But in this passage, in which the expression "Esau have I hated " -occurs, every thing is literal. The Apostle is reasoning from premises to a conclusion. Besides, the contrast of loving Jacob with hating Esau, shows that the last phrase is literal and proper hatred. If God's love to Jacob was real literal love, God's hatred to Esau must be real literal hatred. It might as well be said, that the phrase, "Jacob have I loved," does not signify that God really loved Jacob, but that to love here signifies only to hate less, and that all that is meant by the expression, is that God hated Jacob less than he hated Esau. If every man's own mind is a sufficient security against concluding the meaning to be, " Jacob have I hated less," his judgment ought to be a security against the equally unwarrantable meaning, "Esau have I loved less."

Others translate the word in the original by the term slighted. But if God had no just ground to hate Esau, he could have as little ground for slighting him. Why should Esau be unjustly slighted before he was born, more than unjustly hated? However, those who have a proper sense of man's guilt by nature, will be at no loss to discern the ground of God's hatred of Esau. Both Jacob and Esau were,

[blocks in formation]

like David, conceived in sin, and were in themselves sinners. Esau was justly the object of hatred before he was born, because he was viewed in Adam as a sinner. Jacob was justly the object of God's love before he was born, because he was viewed in Christ as righteous. That the terms, love and hatred, are here to be understood in their full and proper import, is evident by the question put in the 14th verse, and answered in the 15th, 16th, and 17th verses, with the conclusion drawn in the 18th. "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." Compassion is a sign of love, and hardening a proof of hatred. And besides this, the expression, "Esau have I hated," is not stronger than what the Apostle applies to all men, when he says, that by nature they are the children of wrath, and dead in trespasses and sins, and consequently objects of the hatred of the Holy and Just God. All of them are so in their natural state, as considered in themselves, and all of them continue to be so, unless delivered from that state by the distinguishing grace of God. Nothing, then, is said of Esau here, that might not be said of every man who shall finally perish.

The passage in Malachi, from which these words, "Esau have I hated," are quoted by the Apostle, proves what is meant by the expression

« PrécédentContinuer »