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DISCOURSE VIII.

THE BENEDICTION OF THE AGED.

GENESIS xlviii. 15, 16. And he blessed Joseph, and

said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads ; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

The sacred writers excel in the delineation of family scenes. To the heart corrupted by luxury, or inflated by vain glory, these may appear low and uninteresting ; but to the pure and the benevolent mind they possess a charm which is not to be found in all the parade of wealth and greatness. We see in them na. ture in its kindest movements, and feel those incidents recalled in which the heart first opened, and on which, amidst all the transactions of the most eventful life, it delights to dwell. Religion, too, is shown by the sacred writers filling the abodes of the pious with the voice of rejoicing and salvation, giving purity to affection and wisdom to admonition, and shed ding over the gloomiest scenes of trouble and separation solace and utility.

The scene which the text presents is one of the most interesting which can occur in families. It is

drawn in so vivid a manner, that, when we view it, we think we see the pale countenance of the patriarch beaming with gratitude and affection, and listen to the language which the feelings of nature and the inspiration of prophecy drew from his lips.

Joseph had heard that his father was sick, and he comes to see him with his two sons. Instead of deeming this an improper intrusion on his last hours, exhausted as he was by infirmity and tossed with sickness, he stretches out his arms to embrace them, and kissed them, and said, in language full of tenderness and joy, "I had not thought to see thy face; and now God hath shewed me also thy seed.” To these young persons his heart went forth; on them he lays his heaven-directed hands; and in this attitude pronounces the blessing in the text. Unlike his account of his life to Pharaoh, which is deeply tinged with melancholy, his language here breathes nothing but thankfulness and satisfaction ; and, unlike the gloomy forebodings and vindictive threats which have sometimes filled up the last testimony of the aged, it opens the most delightful prospects of prosperity. What a happy old man! His heart and his flesh were failing--the tomb of his fathers was opening for him, but he felt that in these children his name should be perpetuated on earth; and beheld Abraham and Isaac beckoning to him to sit down by them in the mansions of rest. And happy were these youths ! On them rests the blessing of him who, as a prince, had power with God and prevailed; and by the cords of love they are drawn to the service of the God of Jacob.. As we view this scene,

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Lord's; let another call himself by the name of Jacob; and let another subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel."

In this discourse I shall call your attention to the views which Jacob took of the Divine character and procedure in this benediction, to its objects, and to its import and value.

I. Let us then consider the views which Jacob took of the Divine character and procedure.

1. Jacob regards Jehovah as the God before whom his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, did walk. Of all the terms by which a religious life is described, none is more appropriate than this.

Some have considered this as a vulgar and antiquated phrase, and they employ epithets to express it which they deem more elegant and agreeable; but the words which they use show, that of it they have the most defective conceptions, and that their piety is destitute of elevation and tenderness. That squeamishness of taste which makes men disrelish the expressions in which the Bible sets out a life of godliness, is the effect or the pretext of that carnality of mind which is enmity against God.

But what doth the term walking before God imply ?-It intimates, that, in the whole of our conduct, we must be influenced by a regard to the Divine presence and authority. In the transactions of business we must view him as the witness of our deal

* Isaiah xliv, 5.

ings ; in the intercourse of friendship, as the searcher of our hearts; in the settlement of our families, as the appointer of the bounds of our habitation ; in the enjoyment of prosperity, as the God of salvation, who loads us with his benefits; and in bearing our trials, as a wise father who chastens us for our profit. Whatever we do, we must do it heartily as to the Lord, and not to man; and this must be done habitually. The good man's piety is not a transitory feeling, or an occasional act of homage, for he sets the Lord always before him. The love of God is ever in his heart, and the glory of God in his eye, Business without him would be a most intolerable drudgery; friendship the snare of treachery, not the bond of perfectness ; prosperity the incitement to pride and folly; and affliction the messenger of wrath and despair..

Religion is called a walking with God, to point out that intercourse with him by which it is marked; a walking in him to express that conformity and that relation to him in which it mainly consists; and a walking before him, to show that the saint acts as in his presence, and as accountable to him. It strikingly intimates, that religion lies not in aught that is fantastic or extravagant, but in a demeanour marked by calmness, sobriety, and order. - Now, such was the life of Abraham and Isaac, and such was their piety. Though surrounded by idolatry and superstition, they worshipped God in spirit and in truth. Wherever they went, their first care was to raise an altar for his service; they acknowledged him in all their ways, and were attentive to

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every intimation of his will. Such was Abraham's intercourse with the Deity, that he obtained the most honourable title ever borne by mortals, The friend of God.” When Jacob thought of them, his mind dwelt not on such circumstances as these, that they abounded in wealth-that kings honoured them with their friendship—and that armies had been scattered by their prowess—but on their piety. Religion is the brightest figure in the escutcheon, and without this it is an empty show ; it is the noblest line in the epi. taph, and without this it is but words of vanity. What though ancestors were clothed in purple and scarlet, though multitudes bowed before them, and though they engrossed ever so much of the public attention, their glory shall not go with them to the dust, but the righteous shall be in everlasting re« membrance. The idea of their piety shall direct the eye of respect to their grave, and bring from every lip blessings on their name. Sweet are the recollections which the piety of parents calls up in every scene in which they mingled. Here the prayer of faith was poured out, and this is the couch which godly sorrow watered with tears; here their candour checked the harshness of censure, and their patience gloried in tribulation. These are the texts which the heart believed to righteousness, and these are the sacrifices which they made rather than let go their integrity. Such persons are entombed in the heart, and to them is devoted the sigh of affection and the tribute of gratitude. The pleasure with which Jas cob reflects on the piety of his father and grandfather is a striking proof of his own. A wicked child

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