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LET. brightness thereof: it compasseth XII. " the heaven about with a glorious

« circle; and the hands of the most “ High have bended it!!

LET.

LET TER XIII.

XIII.

D 10. " What answer shall we

LET. 1." give to those who are in“ clined to deny, that an all-powerful " and just God could make use of the as most unjustifiable means to attain “his great purpose of aggrandizing " the posterity of Abraham?”

The answer, without doubt, must be, either that the means in question (all circumstances duly known and considered) were not unjustifiable; or, that they were used by man, and only permitted by God. For men often make use of means to attain their own purposes, by which they unwittingly

N 3 become

LET. become the instruments of carrying XIII.

into execution the counsels of God; yet are they not hereby justified in the use of such means. All the actions of holy men of old, related in Scripture, are not to be deemed blameless, because related in Scripture, or because related of them; though there may often have been circumstances, imperfectly known at this distance of time, which rendered them less blameable than they now appear to be; and therefore they are not to be judged of, without great caution and circumfpection. These, perhaps, are in no instances more necessary, for that reason, to be observed, than in reviewing those parts of sacred story, which relate to the birthright and blessing of the ancient patriarchs.

Ibid. - Could this benevolent and let. “ just Being approve of the ungene. XIII. “ rous advantage which Jacob took 66 over his faint and hungry brother?”

That the crime of Esau, in being fo ready to part with his birthright, was of a more atrocious nature than at first sight it may seem to have been, is evident from the remark subjoined in the narrative; “ thus Efau despised as his birthright;" as also from his being ftiginatized by St Paul with an epithet denoting profaneness, and impiety, qualities which were therefore manifested in the act of lightly and wantonly parting with the birthright, and those high and heavenly privileges annexed to it--I say, lightly and wantonly; because, though he returned faint and hungry from the field, there could be no danger of his starving in N 4

his

CIU

LE

XIII

LET. his father's house. He parted with it,

as men often do now, for the sake of gratifying a liquorish appetite towards that which was his brother's, “ for 66 one morsel of meat,” one particular dish, which he vehementiy affected. There was no reason why a privilege thus rejected should be again conferred. Like the Jews, in an instance somewhat similar, he “ judged him6 self unworthy." He cast it from him, and it became another's—With regard to the part borne by Jacob, in buying what Efau was thus ready to sell, there seems no necessity for pronouncing him faultless. The fact is related like many others, without approbation or censure; and the designs of God were accomplished by the free agency of man. To his own master he standeth or fallech, respecting this and every other action of his life.

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