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of evil." Those things which arise from causes the most inconsiderable, however they may seem to proceed from the faults or caprice of others, become the trials of your faith and patience, when you are tempted to repine at their effects, or to commit any sin in order to avoid them.
When Rebecca was led by her affection towards her son Jacob, to make savoury meat, and cover his hands with goat's skin, with a view to deceive his aged father, and procure him a superior blessing, although it was appointed by God, that from Israel should descend the desire of all nations, and that "his seed should be the dust of the earth, and should spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south," yet we find that act of treachery towards Esau was productive of great misery, both to Rebecca and her darling son.
The venerable patriarch Isaac "trembled very exceedingly," and was, no doubt, displeased with the deceitful stratagem she had used. Her eldest child determined to re. venge it upon his brother, and alarmed her with the purpose he had devised; for it was told Rebecca that "Esau hated Jacob,
because of the blessing with which his father blessed him; and Esau said in his heart, the days of mourning for my father are at hand, then will I slay my brother Jacob." This disunion between her sons, obliged her to be separated from him she most tenderly regarded, and to dismiss him into a strange land, to her brother Laban, where he lived many years an exile from home, and was grievously oppressed in consequence of that deceit into which his mother had so imprudently ensnared him, from an indiscreet zeal for his interest. Had they both depended on God, and resigned entirely to his disposal, there is no doubt but his gracious designs in favour of his servant Jacob would have been accomplished without the blameable interference of his creatures; and that is the only exception to the command of obedience to parents, where they require us to act contrary to the higher commands of God. It should teach you, however, my dear reader, that the best persons are liable to be misled by their passions; and you should observe, with what impartiality the sacred historians relate the actions of the most respectable
characters, in order to warn others from the deceitfulness of sin.
However, therefore, you may be involved in trouble, or sunk into poverty, or depressed with the fear of suffering, remember St. Paul's exhortation, and "in well-doing commit yourselves to God as unto a faithful Creator." He permits you to meet with difficulties, to try the strength of your resolution, to see how far you will depend on his assistance, and whether you will perse. vere in virtue through the noble struggle of contending interests. On one hand, the fear of present sorrow will most forcibly alarm your timidity; the dread of what may happen will induce you to prevent the evil, if you can, by the sacrifice of truth, honour, or integrity. But consider, that the excellence of virtue is to support an equal character in the storms of temptation, as well as in the smooth calm of an undisturbed condition. Whatever inconvenience you are afraid of, still there is one thing you should more apprehend: your Redeemer has expressly told you, "I say unto you, my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that
they can do
ye shall fear
but I will forewarn you whom fear him which, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him.”
No pain of body, no uneasiness of mind, is to be the object of apprehension, when our obedience to the laws of God is put in competition. He is almighty and omniscient; he knows what we expect to suffer, but he does not premit us to deliver ourselves by the violation of our duty. When the prophet Elijah was sent to the widow of Zare. phath, to be succoured in the distress to which he was reduced by the wickedness of Ahab, he found her at the gate of the city; she was there in quiet resignation, after every effort for her support had been exerted in vain, gathering a few sticks to dress the last meal that remained to her. Her husband was dead; she was a poor deserted woman, with no friend to assist, no counsellor to soothe or advise her. Her behaviour proves her to have been worthy, and yet Providence had seen fit to exercise her faith to the last. Though she was thus reduced, she had not been tempted to any thing that was base or wicked; she had not given way to
despair, but still exerted herself to provide for her own sustenance and her child. The fatigued and famished prophet beheld this poor but respectable widow, and he called to her and said, "Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink;" and as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, "Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse, and behold I am gathering two sticks, that I may go and dress it, for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.' The pious sufferer made no lamentation till Elijah's request obliged her to acknowledge her poverty; and who in such circumstances, would not have thought themselves excused from the duty of charity? But "Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
For thus said the Lord
God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain