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NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
As we prosecute the history; and in imagination: are taking part in events so remote from the present day of the church; and accompanying the patriarch with all that he had towards Egypt; we find cause to bless God the Holy Ghost, in that he hath recorded several very interesting events which occurred in the way, and which open to a spiritual mind, taught of God, much pleasure. It is blessed to trace the hand of God, in the ordering of Jacob's journey: we see. so much of God in it: and we take part in all that God ordered concerning it; in that his history is ours, considered as the praying seed of Jacob, intimately linked in one and the same chain. So that we look on with a degree of delight; and anticipate the plea, sure which was about to break in upon Jacob's mind, when in the proposed object of this journey, he would once more feast his eyes, in beholding his long-lost son Joseph.
I know not how it is, but so it is, and can only result from sovereign grace, that those that are spiritually taught have similar feelings. There is certainly more in it than mere nature could excite. It riseth to an higher note. So that a regenerated child of God in the present hour, can and doth look back to any, and every period of the church, and join in the songs of the Lord's family as his own. Their God is his God. Their hymn of salvation his also. Hence at each review, we revive the subject afresh; and sing with them in the same harmony of soul, that "the Lord is good, and his mercy endureth for ever."
The first stage of Jacob's journey was Beersheba; about sixteen miles from where he had dwelt at Hebròn. Now here the patriarch, and his whole retinue halted. And this Beersheba, was a memorable spot to Jacob. The sight of it could not fail to have awakened many
an image in his mind, from the former events of his life. Here it was that he had passed his younger days with his father Isaac, and before he knew the Lord. (Gen. xxvi. 24.) Here it was from whence he was driven by the anger of his brother Esau, when he had obtained the blessing of his father, and when in the memorable night that followed, he received the first manifestations of the Lord at Bethel. (Gen. xxviii. 10.). And here once more, and as it proved, finally, he was come to behold it, and close his eyes upon it for Here therefore, he offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac. Often no doubt he had fol lowed his father in these sacrifices in his younger years; and therefore he closeth his first day's journey in the renewal of the same. How indeed could the patriarch have passed away from a place so sacred without it!
I pause over the history to remark the grace of God, in the renewed manifestations made to Jacob at Beersheba. It is said that" God spake to Israel in the visions of the night." The Lord would not suffer him to pass on to the second day's journey without first letting his servant know that his presence was: with him. And let not the reader overlook the very gracious manner in which God revealed himself on this occasion. He called him twice by name: Jacob! Jacob! said the Lord. As if to shew him, how well known he was to the Lord. What can be more blessed than this familiar manner in which the Lord speaks to his people? And I think there is a peculiar blessedness and grace also shewn to the patriarch, in that the Lord called him by his original name Jacob, rather than that of Israel. True indeed, the Lord had honoured him with this name Israel, upon a remarkable occasion, when in a night of great communion with the Lord, the patriarch as a " prince, had power with God and with men, and prevailed." (Gen. xxxii. 24-29.) But it should seem, that the grace of the
Lord in calling him by his first name Jacob, meant to convey to his mind the Lord's more ancient acquaintance with him; and that the Lord not only knew him when at Bethel, but from everlasting. If the reader hath the same apprehensions with me on the subject, he will perceive a very great mercy in all this. For
as the Lord, when speaking to his people, dates his regard for them from everlasting, saying: "I have · loved thee with an everlasting love ;" (Jer. xxxi. 3.) so their names are as familiar to him from everlasting. Their names are in the book of life. (Rev. xiii. 8.) And what the Lord said to Moses is in effect said to every child of God chosen in Christ as Moses was: "I know thee by name, and thou hast found grace in my sight." (Exod. xxxiii. 12.)
One word more on this divine record of Israel's journey. Let the reader, while he remarks the infinite and amazing condescension of Jacob's God in those acts of grace, take with him the scriptural sense to which God's promises extended. God's presence, accompanying the patriarch, became a certain security against all fear; and the assurance that he should be made the father of a great nation, was included in the covenant of grace. (Gen. xxviii. 13, 14.) But we must look beyond the mere letter of the promise of God's bringing him up again, to somewhat higher than a mere natural man would put upon it. Jacob was to return no more, but die in Egypt. The Lord said as much in what followed, namely, that Joseph should put his hand upon the eyes of Jacob; a phrase that implied closing his father eyes at death. And as this was considered among the customs of eastern nations the highest proof of affection; and always if possible, done by the nearest and dearest of relations; Jacob hereby received from God himself the assurance, that his dying moments should be in the presence of his beloved son. And the promise that God would surely
bring up Jacob again to Canaan, his home, was indeed an higher promise than had respect to this life; for it looked forward to that which is to come. In bringing Jacob up again, meant bringing his remains to the cave in Machpelah, to be gathered to his fathers, there to wait the glorious morning of the resurrection. The person and triumphs of the Lord Jesus, over death and the grave, were all comprehended in this assurance from the Lord. "Fear not to go down into Egypt, I. will surely bring thee up again. And hence Jacob by faith, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff." And by the same faith; "Joseph when he died gave commandment concerning his bones." (Heb. xi. 21, 22.) And it is the same privilege of the Lord's. people now, to hear the same precious assurance from the same most precious God and Christ, who is the resurrection and the life,saying to each and to all: "Fear not to go down into the grave; I will go with thee, and I will surely bring thee up again." (John xi. 25. Rom. viii. 11.)
"And Jacob rose up from Beersheba, and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones and their wives, in the wagons which Pharoah had sent to carry him.
"And they took their cattle and their goods which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him.
"All the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.
"And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.
"And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.
“And Israel said unto Joseph; Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive."
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
HERE we close this part of Israel's history. And what a blessed close it forms! The hoary patriarch having once more been favoured of the Lord to put his eyes on his long-lost son, is now content to close them for ever to all other earthly objects; and to bless God and die. But reader, what is all this, even when heightened by all the interesting events we have in Scripture of Jacob's history,in natural things, compared to those feelings which every redeemed and regenerated child of God hath in his spiritual things! When once the soul hath seen Christ, in his beauty, (Isaiah xxxiii. 17.) every other object loseth all its charms, and in an higher strain, than this of the patriarch to his son, each may say with Simeon; "Lord! now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation" (Luke ii. 25-30.)