Thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh,... are mine:I. THE AUTHORITY WHICH HE CLAIMED FOR THIS ACT. He refers to a leading point in the covenant history. God the Almighty, who is able to perform His Word, had appeared to him, had promised to make him a great nation, and to give his seed the land of Canaan (ver. 3). God had spoken to him, and this is his authority. On this he bases all the family hopes. The mention of God's appearance and promise would inspire confidence in Joseph.
II. THE PURPOSE HE HAD IN VIEW.
1. To deliver them from the corrupting influences of the world. Though they had an Egyptian mother, and belonged to that nation by birth and circumstances, yet they were not to be suffered to remain Egyptians. Ordinary men would regard them as having brilliant prospects in the world. But it was a far nobler thing that they should espouse the cause of God, and cast in their lot with His people.
2. To give them a recognized place in the covenant family. This would impart a dignity and meaning to their life, and an impulse and an elevation to all their thoughts Godward.
3. To do special honour to Joseph.
III. THE SAD MEMORIES WHICH AWOKE.
1. They were selected in the room of Jacob's two sons, who had forfeited the blessing. Instead of Reuben and Simeon. They had grievously sinned, and thus lost their inheritance. The portion of Reuben was given to Ephraim; and of Simeon to Manasseh. The grounds of this are given in 1 Chronicles 5:1; see also Genesis 34., 49:5-7; Numbers 26:28-37; 1 Chronicles 7:14-29.
2. They reminded him of one whom he had loved and lost (ver. 7).
(T. H. Leale.)
I. THE OLD MAN'S SICKNESS. The pain and sorrow of dying mitigated by the presence and kind offices of dear friends. The joy of Jacob when it is told him that Joseph is coming. He strengthened himself, and sat up. Good news infuse new life. How strong in death are those who feel that Christ, the Great Deliverer, is near.
II. THE OLD MAN'S MEMORY. In youth hope is strong, in old age, memory. The memory of the aged recalls distant things. The recent are apt to be forgotten. Before the old man's mind memory rolls out the picture of his journey from Padan. Happy shall we be if, among our memories of the past, we can recall an early attachment of truth, &c., especially to Jesus. The past never dies. Memory carries the present forward into the future.
III. THE OLD MAN'S BLESSING.
1. Valuable. The blessing of a good old man not to be slighted. The blessing of such a man as Jacob most precious. It involved the transmission of covenant mercies. Jacob's relation to the people of God, federal and representative.
2. Discriminating. He distinguished between the elder and younger son. By supernatural illumination he specially indicated the supremacy of the younger.
3. Prophetic. He not only foretold the pre-eminence of Ephraim, but predicted their admitted greatness by all Israel.
4. Practical. He gave, as the covenant owner of the promised land, great material wealth to these adopted children of Joseph. His blessing had the force of law — a last will and testament. The bequest was allowed.
5. Pious. He referred what he did to the will of God. Acknowledged the good hand' of the Lord his God, and the angel who redeemed him from all evil. Learn:(1) The sickness which is unto death will soon be upon us.(2) The duty of being kind to the sick and afflicted.(3) To guard the treasures of memory. And take care that there shall be among them the memory of forgiven sin.(4) To seek to deserve the blessing of the aged.(5) Above all to seek early the blessing and favour of God.
(J. C. Gray.)
(F. Whitfield, M. A.)
Israel beheld Joseph's sons.1. Prudence in good men may divert nature from the remembrance of sad events. About Rachel.
2. Weak nature may see in part that which it doth not discern. So Jacob.
3. Reason suggests inquiry to know what sight doth not discern (ver. 8).
4. Sons in strength should help the weakness of aged parents. So Joseph to his father.
5. It concerns fathers to own their children especially in order to a blessing. So Joseph his.
6. Godly parents account their children God's gift unto them. So Joseph.
7. It is a mercy remarkable to have children for blessing in a strange place.
8. Gracious fathers desire their children's children to bless them (ver. 9).
9. Old age makes the saints subject to the same infirmities as other men. So to Jacob.
10. Dimness of sight is a usual symptom of old age.
11. Weakness in sight makes mistakes that need direction in the holiest men.
12. Good fathers yield to the desires of bringing children to them that can bless them.
13. Kisses and embracings are not unseemly from holy ancestors to their seed's seed in order to blessing (ver. 10).
14. It is meet for the holy ancestors to acquaint the sons of God's dealings, with them.
15. Hopelessness of mercy with good souls makes them remember it more sweetly.
16. God's mercies sometimes over-reach hope and expectation of His people.
17. Saints delight to show their over-abounding mercies to His praise (ver. 11).
18. Suitable motions to dispose for a ministerial blessing is but meet.
19. Filial obeisance in honour of parents is a just duty in expectation of a blessing (ver. 12).
20. There are right-hand and left-hand blessings, which God giveth by His ministers, greater and less.
21. Good men may aim one to the right, and another to the left.hand blessing, whom God changeth.
22. It is needful to come near So the ministers of blessing if men desire to have it (ver. 13).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
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, &c.
I. Jacob seems to make it his object, and to represent it as a privilege, that he should take the lads out of the family of Joseph, though that family was then one of the noblest in Egypt, and transplant them into his own, though it had no outward distinction but what is derived from its connection with the other. Faith gave him this consciousness of superiority; he knew that his posterity were to constitute a peculiar people, from which would at length arise the Redeemer. He felt it far more of an advantage for Ephraim and Manasseh to be counted with the tribes than numbered among the princes of Egypt.
II. Observe the peculiarity of Jacob's language with regard to his preserver, and his decided preference of the younger brother to the elder, in spite of the remonstrances of Joseph. There was faith, and illustrious faith, in both. By the "Angel who redeemed him from all evil," he must have meant the Second Person of the Trinity; he shows that he had glimmerings of the finished work of Christ. The preference of the younger son to the elder was typical of the preference of the Gentile Church to the Jewish. Acting on what he felt convinced was the purpose of God, Jacob did violence to his own inclination and that of those whom he most longed to please.
III. Jacob's worshipping (referred to in Hebrews 11.) may be taken as proving his faith. What has a dying man to do with worshipping, unless he is a believer in another state? He leans upon the top of his staff as if he would acknowledge the goodness of his heavenly Father, remind himself of the troubles through which he had been brought, and of the Hand which alone had been his guardian and guide.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
I. WE SEE HERE THE BEAUTY OF FILIAL PIETY. Jacob was only a shepherd, and Joseph was an exalted and powerful statesman. Had there been a trace of meanness and pride and self-seeking in the son, he might easily have waited till the patriarch was dead before doing him honour. Death often compels a child to respect a neglected parent. But Joseph was a great man, so great that the distinction of station had no influence upon his mind. Like many other great men, his personal attachments were intense, and his loyalty to his family was deep and unchanged. Besides this, his father was the heir of the covenant whose mercies would enrich him more than all Egypt's lands, and he could not alienate himself from that future commonwealth of Israel to which his faith pointed. This journey of Joseph to his father shows the man, and the man of God. He felt that the less was to be blessed of the greater.
II. WE ARE INTERESTED IS JACOB'S OWN VIEW OF HIS LIFE. When Israel strengthened himself for this last interview, and there came to him a flash of his old prowess and undaunted vigour, his memory was aroused, and the past in its great features lay spread out before him. The dark parts of his life seemed to remind him of Divine mercies, and from the summit he had gained appeared to him only as the shadows of summer clouds on distant hills.
III. THE BLESSING WAS A SOLEMN ACT OF PROPHECY, FAITH, AND WORSHIP.
IV. SEE HERE THE DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY, Oldest son, the most promising child, does not always, perhaps not usually, share the largest part of the joys and honours of life. Parental hopes are often thwarted, and we desire in vain to change the manifest development of character and circumstance. In the history of nations, outside Israel, we witness the same phenomenon, and wonder why the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong; why smaller states eclipse greater ones, and why heroes and leaders spring from such unexpected quarters. All is of God. In the workings of redemption around us every day we meet the same fact. One is taken and another left. Nor can we read the reasons.
(E. N. Packard.)
I. ITS NATURE AND PROSPERITY.
1. They were blessed in the person of Joseph. He is blessed in his sons (vers. 15, 20). The principle is recognized of blessing mankind in the name and for the sake of another.
2. With the covenant blessing. Not with that of the gods of Egypt, though he had cause to be grateful to that nation. He would have his children to know the true fount of blessedness. He invoked the blessing of the God of his fathers (ver. 15). The assurance that others have shared the gifts of grace with us is a support to our faith. We of the Church belong to a holy nation, which has a great and venerable past.
3. With the blessing of which he himself had experience. "The God which fed me all my life long until this day" (ver. 15). He felt that God had tended and cared for him like a shepherd.
4. With a different blessing for each. He bestows the larger blessing upon the younger (ver. 19).
II. ITS OUTWARD FORM. It was conveyed by the imposition of hands (ver. 14). The blessing was not merely a wish or a hope, but a reality, This laying on of hands was the outward means or symbol of its conveyance. Outward forms impress, they steady the mind, and assist contemplation. The blessing was as real as the outward act which accompanied it, the reality of nature leading on to the reality of grace.
III. ITS WARRANT.
1. The covenant position in which God had placed him. He stood with his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, in the same covenant relation with God (vers. 15, 16).
2. The act was Divinely directed. Old Jacob crossed his hands, and thus in bestowing the blessing reversed the order of nature (vers. 14, 17). He refused to be corrected by Joseph, for though his sight was dim, his spiritual eye discerned the will of God. He guided his hands "wittingly," with full knowledge of the decree of the Most High. God, who distributes His gifts as He will, prefers the younger to the elder. Nature and grace often take cross directions.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. THE GLORIOUS PERSONAGE ADDRESSED. "The Angel," &c.
1. The title of this glorious personage.
2. His achievements.
II. THE INTERESTING PRAYER PRESENTED.
1. What is sought? "Bless."
(1) (2) (3) 2. Who should thus pray? (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) 3. The manner of presenting this supplication. (1) (2) (3) (J. Burns, D. D.)
(2) (3) 2. Who should thus pray? (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) 3. The manner of presenting this supplication. (1) (2) (3) (J. Burns, D. D.)
(3) 2. Who should thus pray? (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) 3. The manner of presenting this supplication. (1) (2) (3) (J. Burns, D. D.)
2. Who should thus pray?
3. The manner of presenting this supplication. (2) (3) (J. Burns, D. D.)
3. The manner of presenting this supplication.
(2) (3) (J. Burns, D. D.)
(3) (J. Burns, D. D.)
(J. Burns, D. D.)
I. THE HEIRS OF THE BLESSING — A SURPRISE.
1. The adoption of Joseph's two sons to be reckoned among the patriarchs, equal with Jacob's own sons, while Joseph personally is left out, was doubt]ass a surprise.(1) Because Joseph's personal character would seem to warrant the perpetuity of his own name in tribal pre-eminence.(2) Because this adoption increased the tribes to thirteen.(3) We find, however, that this was a conscious, or unconscious, anticipation of the elimination of the tribe of Levi, by its elevation to priestly honour in place of the first-born.(4) We also find that this adoption was a mark of special honour to Joseph, in having a double inheritance in his sons, and also in having the birthright forfeited by Reuben, on account of his sin (Genesis 48:22; 1 Chronicles 5:1, 2).
2. This adoption of Joseph's two sons was by Divine direction.
II. THE CHARACTER OF THE BLESSING IS SUGGESTIVE.
1. The "elevated glow" of the dying patriarch must be regarded as the result of the Divine power that wrought upon him.
2. The spirit and terms of the blessing are very touching and instructive.(1) Gratitude for the care, protection, and guidance of God is here beautifully expressed.(2) The reference to "the Angel" that redeemed him is a suggestive allusion to "the quality of Jehovah and His Angel."
3. The sovereignty of God in the expression of His choice of the younger over the elder must be fully recognized.
III. THE PATRIARCH'S PERSONAL CONDITION WHEN THE BLESSING WAS BESTOWED.
3. Spiritual.Lessons: —
1. The sovereignty of God.
2. Divine sovereignty is not exercised in unreasoning arbitrariness, but in perfect harmony with the laws of justice and love.
3. Learn how gloriously a child of God can die.
(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)
I. To ILLUSTRATE THE TEXT.
1. Here is Jacob's recollection and acknowledgment of the Divine goodness and care. He acknowledgeth God, as the God of his pious ancestors, and as his constant preserver and benefactor.
II. TO CONSIDER WHAT INSTRUCTIVE LESSONS AGED CHRISTIANS MAY DRAW FROM HENCE.
1. It is their duty to recollect and acknowledge their long experience of God's goodness and care.(1) It will promote and cherish your gratitude to God.(2) It will tend to prevent your murmuring under the burdens and infirmities of age.(3) It will promote your continued activity in God's service.(4) It will encourage your prayers and your hope.
2. It is the duty of aged and dying Christians to bless and pray for their descendants.(1) It is a becoming expression of your faith and trust in God and regard for your children.(2) It will be likely to make a good impression upon their hearts, and so qualify them for the Divine blessing.(3) It is the way to procure the Divine blessing for them.Concluding reflections:
1. Let children desire and value the prayer and blessing of their aged, dying parents.
2. Let the children of good men labour to secure the blessing for themselves.
1. He admits without reserve the providential care of God through a long life. "God Almighty that appeared unto me in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, hath fed me all my life long unto this day." Many there are whose last year's savour of a very different spirit from this. They have set out in life with false and unwarranted expectations of prosperity. They began without God for their friend, and they lived a life of business or of folly. They never cherished any hope, but the hope of extracting happiness from a world which was never calculated to give it. And what has been the result? Year after year has brought its disappointments.
2. There is another essential point of difference between the experience of this venerable Patriarch and yours. Jacob recognizes fully the gracious, as well as the protecting care of his God. In looking back upon his way, he broadly and joyfully admits the truth of God's redeeming mercy. This is the great secret of the exalted sublimity of his character, and the serenity of his end. We can recognize then in the creed of Jacob, precisely the same ground of hope as that of which we ourselves now rest. As truly as we see Christians in the full confidence of the faith of the gospel approaching their dying hour, and saying, "I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." "To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain"; so truly do we see Jacob in the exercise of the very same faith — a faith in a nameless Saviour. Learn that you can leave no better blessing to your children and your friends, than the mantle of your own piety — a measure of your own Christian hope. The last lesson is encouragement. Be encouraged to seek the Lord early, and to trust him through life. Jacob is one of an innumerable host of instances adducible in proof of the faithfulness of God. "He will never fail them that trust in Him."
1. Though Ephraim and Manasseh were each constituted heads of tribes, yet they were blessed in the person of their father Joseph. Here, as elsewhere, God would exemplify the great principle on which He designed to act in blessing mankind in the name and for the sake of another.
2. Jacob, though now among the Egyptians, and kindly treated by them, yet makes no mention of their gods, but holds up to his posterity the living and true God. In proportion as Egypt was kind to the young people, such would be their danger of being seduced; but let them remember the dying words of their venerable ancestor, and know from whence their blessedness cometh.
3. The God whose blessing was bestowed upon them was not only the true God, but the God of their fathers; a God in covenant with the family, who loved them, and was loved and served by them. "God, before whom my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, did walk." How sweet and endearing the character; and what a recommendation of these holy patterns to the young people! Nor was He merely the God of Abraham and Isaac, but Jacob himself also could speak well of His name; adding, "The God who fed me all my life long unto this day!" Sweet and solemn are the recommendations of aged piety. "Speak reproachfully of Christ," said the persecutors to , when leading him to the stake. "Eighty six years I have served Him" answered the venerable man, during all which time He never did me an injury; how then can I blaspheme Him who is my King, and my Saviour?" Hearken, oh, young people, to this affecting language! It is a principle dictated by common prudence, "Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not": and how much more forcibly does it apply to the God of your fathers!
4. This God is culled "the Angel who redeemed him from all evil." Who this was it is not difficult to decide. It was the Angel, no doubt, with whom Jacob wrestled and prevailed, and concerning whom he said, "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."
5. The blessing of God under all these endearing characters is invoked upon the lads, their forefathers' names put upon them, and abundant increase promised to them. Surely it is good to be connected with them that fear God; yet those only who are of faith will ultimately be blessed with their faithful predecessors.
1. Our text tells us that Jacob blessed Joseph, and we perceive that he blessed him through blessing his children; which leads us to the next remark, that no choicer favour could fall upon ourselves than to see our children favoured of the Lord. Joseph is doubly blessed by seeing Ephraim and Manasseh blessed.
2. Those of us who are parents are bound to do our best, that our children may be partakers with us of the Divine inheritance. As Joseph took Ephraim and Manasseh to see their aged grandfather, let us bring our children where blessings may be expected.
3. Furthermore, observe that if we want to bless young people, one of the likeliest means of doing so will be our personal testimony to the goodness of God. Young men and women usually feel great interest in their fathers' life-story — if it be a worthy one — and what they hear from them of their personal experience of the goodness of God will abide with them. This is one of the best ways in which to bless the lads. The benediction of Jacob was intertwisted with his biography; the blessing which he had himself enjoyed he wished for them, and as he invoked it he helped to secure it by his personal testimony.
4. One thing further: I want you to note, that Jacob, in desiring to bless his grandsons, introduced them to God. He speaks of " God before whom my fathers did walk: God who blessed me all my life long." This is the great distinction between man and man: there are two races, he that feareth God, and he that feareth Him not. The religion of this present age, such as it is, has a wrong direction in its course. It seeks after what is called " the enthusiasm of humanity," but what we want far more is enthusiasm for God. We shall never go right unless God is first, midst, and last. All this is introduction; so now we must come at once and plunge into the discourse. Jacob's testimony, wherewith he blessed the sons of Joseph, has in it four points.
I. First HE SPEAKS OF ANCESTRAL MERCIES; he begins with that" God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk." As with a pencil he sketches the lives of Abraham and Isaac.
1. They were men who recognized God and worshipped Him, beyond all others of their age. God was to them a real existence; they spake with God, and God spake with them; they were friends of God, and enjoyed familiar acquaintance with Him.
2. They not only recognized God, but they owned Him in daily life. I take the expression, "God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk," to mean that He was their God in common life. They not only knelt before God when they prayed, but they walked before Him in everything. This is the kind of life for you and for me; whether we live in a great house or in a poor cottage, if we walk before God we shall lead a happy and a noble life, whether that life be public or obscure. Oh that our young people would firmly believe this!
3. They walked before God; that is they obeyed His commands. His call they heard, His bidding they followed. To them the will of the Lord was paramount: He was law and life to them, for they loved and feared Him. They were prompt to hear the behests of God, and rose up early to fulfil them. They acted as in the immediate presence of the All-seeing.
4. To the full they trusted Him. In this sense they always saw Him. We sometimes talk about tracing Him. We cannot trace Him, except as we trust Him; and because they trusted, they traced Him.
5. They enjoyed the favour of God, for this also is intended by walking before Him. His face was towards them: they sunned themselves in His smile. God's love was their true treasure. God was their wealth, their strength, their exceeding joy. I say again, happy sons who have such ancestors! happier still if they follow in their track! So Jacob spoke of Abraham and Isaac, and so can some of us speak of those who went before us. Those of us who can look back upon godly ancestors now in heaven must feel that many ties bind us to follow the same course of life.
6. There is a charm about that which was prized by our fathers. Heirlooms are treasured, and the best heirloom in a family is the knowledge of God. The way of holiness in which your fathers went is a fitting way for you, and it is seemly that you maintain the godly traditions of your house. In the old times they expected sons to follow the secular calling of their fathers; and although that may be regarded as an old-world mistake, yet it is well when sons and daughters receive the same spiritual call as their parents. Grace is not tied to families, but yet the Lord delights to bless to a thousand generations. Very far are we from believing that the new birth is of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man. The will of God reigns here supreme, and absolute; but yet there is a sweet fitness in the passing on of holy loyalty from grandsire to father, and from father to son. A godly ancestry casts responsibility upon young people. These Ephraims and Manassehs perceive that their fathers knew the Lord, and the question arises, Why should they not know Him? Oh my beloved young friends, the God of your fathers will be found of you and be your God. The prayers of your fathers have gone before you; let them be followed by your own. A godly ancestry should invest a man's case with great hopefulness. May he not argue, "If God blessed my ancestors, why should He not bless me?"
II. Now he comes to deal with PERSONAL MERCIES. The old man's voice faltered as he said, "The God which fed me all my life long." The translation would be better if it ran, "The God which shepherded me all my life long."
1. He spoke of the Lord as his shepherd. Jacob had been a shepherd, and therefore he knew what shepherding included: the figure is full of meaning. There had been a good deal of Jacob about Jacob, and he had tried to shepherd himself. Poor sheep that he was, while under his own guidance he had been caught in many thorns, and had wandered in many wildernesses. Because he would be so much a shepherd to himself, he had been hard put to it. But over all, despite his wilfulness, the shepherding of the covenant God had been exercised towards him, and he acknowledged it. Oh dear saints of God, you to whom years are being multiplied, give praise to your God for having been your shepherd. Bear your witness to the shepherding of God, for this may lead others to become the sheep of His pasture.
2. This shepherding had been perfect. Our version rightly says that the Lord had fed Jacob all his life long. Take that sense of it, and you who have a daily struggle for subsistence will see much beauty in it. Mercies are all the sweeter when seen to come from the hand of God. But besides being fed Jacob had been led, even as sheep are guided by the shepherd who goes before them. His journeys, for that period, had been unusually long, perilous, and frequent. He had fled from home to Padanaram; after long years he had come back again to Canaan, and had met his brother Esau; and after that, in his old age, he had journeyed into Egypt. To go to California or New Zealand in these times is nothing at all compared to those journeys in Jacob's day. But he says, "God has shepherded me all my life long"; and he means that the great changes of his life had been wisely ordered. Life ends in blighted hope if you have not hope in God. But with God you are as a sheep with a shepherd — cared for, guided, guarded, fed, and led, and your end shall be peace without end.
III. Thirdly, bear with me while I follow Jacob in his word upon REDEEMING MERCIES. "The Angel which redeemed me from all evil." There was to Joseph a mysterious Personage who was God, and yet the Angel or messenger of God. He puts this Angel in apposition with the Elohim: for this Angel was God. Yet was He his Redeemer. Brothers and sisters, let us also tell of the redeeming mercies of the Lord Jesus towards us. You remember, too, when that pinch came in business, so that you could not see how to provide things honest in the sight of all men; then Jesus revealed His love and bade you think of the lilies and the ravens, which neither spin nor sow, and yet are clothed majestically and fare sumptuously. Many a time has the Lord delivered you because He delighted in you.
IV. Jacob has spoken of ancestral mercies, personal mercies and redeeming mercies, and now he deals with FUTURE MERCIES, as he cries "Bless the lads." He began with blessing Joseph, and he finishes with blessing his lads. Oh dear friends, if God has blessed you, I know you will want Him to bless others. There is the stream of mercy, deep, broad, and clear; you have drunk of it, and are refreshed, but it is as full as ever. It will flow on, will it not? In closing, I wish to bear a personal testimony by narrating an incident in my own life. I have been preaching in Essex this week, and I took the opportunity to visit the place where my grandfather preached so long, and where I spent my earliest days. Last Wednesday was to me a day in which I walked like a man in a dream. Everybody seemed bound to recall some event or other of my childhood. What a story of Divine love and mercy did it bring before my mind! Among other things, I sat down in a place that must ever be sacred to me. There stood in my grandfather's manse garden two arbours made of yew trees, cut into sugar-loaf fashion. Though the old manse has given way to a new one, and the old chapel has gone also, yet the yew trees flourish as aforetime. I sat down in the right hand arbour and bethought me of what had happened there many years ago. When I was a young child staying with my grandfather, there came to preach in the village Mr. Knill, who had been a missionary at St. Petersburg, and a mighty preacher of the gospel. He came to preach for the London Missionary Society, and arrived on the Saturday at the manse. He was a great soul-winner, and he soon spied out the boy. He said to me, "Where do you sleep? for I want to call you up in the morning." I showed him my little room. At six o'clock he called me up, and we went into that arbour. There, in the sweetest way, he told me of the love of Jesus, and of the blessedness of trusting in Him and loving Him in our childhood. With many a story he preached Christ to me, and told me how good God had been to him, and then he prayed that I might know the Lord and serve Him. He knelt down in that arbour and prayed for me with his arms about my neck. He did not seem content unless I kept with him in the interval between the services, and he heard my childish talk with patient love. On Monday morning he did as on the Sabbath, and again on Tuesday. Three times he taught me and prayed with me, and before he had to leave, my grandfather had come back from the place where he had gone to preach, and all the family were gathered to morning prayer. Then, in the presence of them all, Mr. Knill took me on his knee, anal said, "This child will one day preach the gospel, and he will preach it to great multitudes. I am persuaded that he will preach in the chapel of Rowland Hill, where (I think he said) I am now the minister." He spoke very solemnly, and called upon all present to witness what he said. Then he gave me sixpence as a reward if I would learn the hymn —
"God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform."
I was made to promise that when I preached in Rowland Hill's chapel that hymn should be sung. Think of that as a promise from a child I Would it ever be other than an idle dream? Years flew by. After I had begun for some little time to preach in London, Dr. Alexander Fletcher had to give the annual sermon to children in Surrey Chapel, but as he was taken ill, I was asked in a hurry to preach to the children. "Yes," I said, "I will, if the children will sing 'God moves in a mysterious way.' I have made a promise long ago that so that should be sung." And so it was; I preached in Rowland Hill's chapel, and the hymn was sung. My, emotions on that occasion I cannot describe. Still that was not the chapel which Mr. Knill intended. All unsought by me, the minister at Wotton-under-Edge, which was Mr. Hill's summer residence, invited me to preach there. I went on the condition that the congregation should sing, "God moves in a mysterious way" — which was also done. After that I went to preach for Mr. Richard Knill himself, who was then at Chester. What a meeting we had! Mark this! he was preaching in the theatre! His preaching in a theatre took away from me all fear about preaching in secular buildings, and set me free for the campaigns in Exeter Hall and the Surrey Music Hall. How much this had to do with other theatre services you know. After more than forty years of the Lord's loving-kindness, I sat again in that arbour! No doubt it is a mere trifle for outsiders to hear, but to me it was an overwhelming moment. The present minister of Stambourn meeting-house, and the members of his family, including his son and his grandchildren, were in the garden, and I could not help calling them together around that arbour, while I praised the Lord for His goodness. One irresistible impulse was upon me. it was to pray God to bless those lads that stood around me. Do you not see how the memory begat the prayer? I wanted them to remember when they grew up my testimony of God's goodness to me; and for that same reason I tell it to you young people who are around me this morning. God has blessed me all my life long, and redeemed me from all evil, and I pray that He may be your God. You that have godly parents, I would specially address. I beseech you to follow in their footsteps, that you may one day speak of the Lord as they were able to do in their day. Remember that special promise, "I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find Me." May the Holy Spirit lead you to seek Him this day; and you shall live to praise His name as Jacob did.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. First of all, THE REFERENCE TO JACOB'S FOREFATHERS: he says, "God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk." How various must be the thoughts suggested to all our minds by that same expression — "God, before whom my fathers did walk!" How many of us can say that it was the God of Abraham before whom our fathers did walk? How many must be constrained to say that it was the "god of this world .... before whom their fathers did walk!" It is an awful question which we read in the prophet, "Your fathers, where are they?" How solemnly it recalls the history of our own youth! How solemnly it bids us ask, "Were those we loved in the flesh in Christ, or were they out of Christ? "But I stay not to dwell upon that: it is clear that the feelings which were in the mind of the patriarch were those of joy and gratitude; he knew who was "the God of his fathers"; he knew that their God was his God. In the expression, therefore, "God, before whom my fathers did walk," he doubtless had reference to the sovereign grace of God, which had called Abraham from the midst of an idolatrous nation, to be " the father of the faithful" — to be he in whose "seed all the families of the earth should be blessed." His mind, therefore, was filled with lone to that God who had made Abraham "to differ," and who had so mercifully kept Abraham, even to the end.
II. But, secondly, let us speak of THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT WHICH IS HERE GIVEN OF JACOB'S EXPERIENCE when he says, "the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil." He appears here, I think, to refer to God's providential care of him, as well as to the spiritual mercies vouchsafed to him, when he says, "the God who fed me all my life long." For he would refer to His support in his early days at home. He would refer also to the manifest way in which God's presence was vouchsafed to him at the time he was in the family of Laban; and even perhaps now he was referring also to the mysterious manner in which God had been pleased to allow his son — his beloved son Joseph — to be taken from him for a times when he was constrained to exclaim, "All these things are against me." But now, having been taught of God the reason of the Lord's dealings; having seen how good was brought out of evil; having perceived that the Lord had sent Joseph before him, so that he might be the instrument in the Lord's hand of feeding him in the time of want and famine, he says, "the God which fed me all my life long unto this day." But I apprehend that, grateful as the patriarch must have felt for these temporal mercies, his feelings upon this point were very far less intense than they were for those spiritual mercies which God had so graciously vouchsafed to him; for we see him also saying, "the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads." "The Angel who redeemed." And who was this Angel whose blessing he was invoking? Had it not been the Angel of the covenant, the very expression made use of by the patriarch must have been the language of blasphemy; but, instead of that, we know that it was the Angel of the covenant, even the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and from that we gather what the nature of those spiritual mercies are to which the patriarch more especially alludes: "The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads."
III. But, thirdly, we must remark upon THE BLESSING WHICH IS INVOKED: the patriarch says, "bless the lads." He doubtless desired that there should be daily food provided for them; he doubtless desired that God's care should constantly watch over them; but there was something far greater than this he desired for them. He desired the full blessings of God's redeeming love, so that he might be able to feel that that Angel which had "redeemed him from all evil" would also redeem those children which were before him, and that they might have all that comfortable experience which he himself enjoyed. And what could be the groundwork of such anticipations existing in the aged patriarch's breast? Think you, he considered that they would merit these blessings at the hands of God, while he disclaimed all merit himself? There were no feelings of this kind in his breast, for he had been taught of God; but he knew what God he had to deal with; he felt that he had to deal with a covenant-keeping God, and he was assured that all those blessings which he besought were covenant mercies in Christ Jesus.
(H. M. Villiers, M. A.)
I. WE ARE TO CONSIDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND THE IMPORT OF JACOB'S BLESSING: "And Jacob blessed Joseph." But more particularly —
1. Contemplate the persons before us: Jacob, Joseph, and his two sons.
2. Mark now the place where these persons met.
3. Remember the time when these persons met. It was the time of Jacob's death.
4. Observe the import of the solemn action in our text. It is a dying blessing! "God-bless the lads!" God is the author of every blessing. We are, secondly —
II. To CONSIDER THE INSTRUCTION WHICH THE BLESSING CONVEYS.
1. This blessing teaches the nature of true religion. It is "walking before God."
2. This blessing teaches the benefits of practical godliness.
3. This blessing teaches the advantages of pious parents. "The God of my fathers." The children of pious parents have the advantage of religious instruction. Again: such children have the advantage of fervent and constant prayer for their eternal welfare. Further: such children have the advantage of religious example. Finally: such children, like Jacob's sons, may have the advantage of their parents' dying testimony and last blessing.
4. This blessing teaches the importance of educating the young.
(J. Cawood, M. A.)
I. A DISTINCTION OF BLESSING. Jacob was, doubtless, divinely guided to make this distinction. The choice he made was inspired by God; and God's will was discerned and obeyed. We may learn to avoid pride, envy, and ambition, and to abide by God's will and the Divine disposal of events and circumstances (comp. 1 Samuel 2:7; Psalm 75:6, 7; 1 Corinthians 12:11).
II. A CONTINUITY OF BLESSING (read verses 15 and 16, and note the reference to Abraham and Isaac).
III. A FUTURITY OF BLESSING.
IV. A UNITY OF BLESSING. The lots of one and another among God's people may differ. But all that is good, and hopeful, and blessed, comes from the One source of blessing — the One God, Guide, Deliverer. Conclusion: Let us ask ourselves these questions: Are we trying to learn from our elders God's truth? Are we seeking to live as those who look for God's blessing as the best thing? Do we wish to hand down the truth and premises of the Lord to those that come after us (Psalm 78:3, 4)?
(W. S. Smith, B. D.)
(Prof. J. G. Murphy.)
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Behold, I die.
I. OF STRENGTH IN WEAKNESS.
1. The strength of faith.
2. The strength of godliness.
3. The strength of peace.
II. OF SUCCESS IN FAILURE.
III. OF LIFE IN DEATH.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. A PERIOD OF UNRUFFLED PEACE AND PROSPERITY.
II. A SEASON OF GRATEFUL RETROSPECT.
III. A SUBLIME DEATH-SCENE.
(T. S. Dickson, M. A.)
I. AN ABSORBING CRISIS.
1. Its nature.
2. Its cause. Result of sin.
3. Its consequences. Everlasting.
II. AN AWAKENING CONSIDERATION. "Behold." That word suggests to us suitable preparation. In prospect, then, of that amazing hour we ought —
1. To review our past lives.
2. To realise our dying hour.
3. To think of our future prospects.
(C. Clayton, M. A.)
I. LET US CONSIDER THE SPIRIT OF THE WORDS OF THE DYING PATRIARCH IN REFERENCE TO HIMSELF. "I die," as if he had said, I die in peace; I die without reluctance; I have lived long enough; I am satisfied with life; I am willing to depart. What may have been the considerations which induced this state of feeling?
1. He was satisfied with the amount of enjoyment which the God of his life had granted him.
2. The patriarch was satisfied with that duration of life which had been allotted him.
3. The dying patriarch was satisfied with the prospect of a better life which was opening before him. Having thus considered the words of the text, in reference to the views entertained by the patriarch as to himself, let us regard them.
II. As SUGGESTIVE OF THE REASONS OF HIS REPOSE IN REFERENCE TO HIS SURVIVING RELATIVES.
1. The manifestations of the Divine mercy to himself, encouraged his hopes as to his surviving relatives.
2. He was persuaded that the paternal benediction he was authorized to pronounce, had an aspect peculiarly favourable to his descendants.
3. The patriarch felt assured that the covenant made with Abraham, and Isaac, and himself, secured the presence and blessing of God to his survivors, even to the remotest age.
(H. F. Burder, M. A.)
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Genesis 48:11, we have a very beautiful example of the mode in which our God ever rises above all our thoughts, and proves Himself better than all our fears. "And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face; and, lo, God hath showed me also thy seed." To nature's view, Joseph was dead; whereas in God's view he was alive, and seated in the highest place of authority, next the throne. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). Would that our souls could rise higher in their apprehension of God and His ways.
(C. H. M.)
(C. H. M.)
John Owen was dying, he said, "I am leaving the ship of the Church in a storm; but whilst the Great Pilot is in it, the loss of a poor under-rower will be inconsiderable." And when a young man whose heart was in the foreign mission work, had to die, he said, "God can evangelize the world without me." So when we may lose earthly friends, comforters, guides, and helpers, we may and ought ever to fall back on our all-sufficient and ever-present God and Heavenly Father. All the lamps in a house or in a town may be extinguished when the sun rises; all the pumps may also be demolished or taken away, whilst there is a reservoir ever full, from which every one may have an abundant supply of the best water. So we need not be dismayed when we lose any or all earthly friends and advantages, so long as we have God left. They who have God for their Father, and Friend, and Portion, have all things in Him. He is the best Teacher, Guide, Protector, and Provider. But sometimes God has to deprive us of our earthly friends and possessions in order to lead us to trust Him as we ought.
(H. W. Beecher.)