And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children to Leah…
1. The most obvious motive to forgive is the pleasure of forgiving and the pain of resenting. Therefore, as the apostle says, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, we may say, Forgive, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Forgive while forgiveness is worth having; forgive while there remains enough of life for the renewal of kindness; forgive while you have something else to bestow on repentance than lingering looks and faltering words. And what does this solemn Christian injunction of forgiving do but eradicate from the mind the most painful and most unquiet of all passions? What wretchedness to clamour out for ever, "I will pursue, I will overtake; my right hand shall dash in pieces mine enemy"; to sacrifice all the quiet happiness of life, to sicken on the bosom of joy, still, after the lapse of years, to feel, to see, and to suffer with the freshness of yesterday; and in the midst of blessings to exclaim, All this availeth me nothing while Mordecai, the Jew, sitteth at the king's gate.
2. Are we sure, too, that the cause of our resentment is just? Have we collected the most ample evidence? Have we examined it with the closest attention? Have we subjected it to impartial revision? Have we suspected our passions? Have we questioned our self-love?
3. Men are so far, generally, from being ashamed of not forgiving injuries, that they often glory in revenge; they believe it to be united with courage and with watchful, dignified pride. Yet, after all, what talents or what virtue can an unforgiving disposition possibly imply? Who is most likely longest to retain the sense of injured dignity? He who has given no pledge to his fellow-creatures that he is good and amiable? who does not feel that he is invulnerable? who is least fortified by a long tenor of just intentions and wise actions? What man who had ever trodden one step in the paths of religion would vex the sunshine of his existence with all the inquietudes of resentment? would ingraft upon his life the labour of hating, and hovel year after year over expiring injuries? Who is there that bears about him a heart of flesh that would put away a brother or a friend who knelt to him for mercy?
4. Other men, who have no desire to be thought magnanimous because they revenge, are still apprehensive of being considered as timid if they forgive and resent to maintain a character for spirit; but it is certainly extremely possible to combine temperate resistance to present injustice with a tendency to forgive what is past; to be firm in the maintenance of just rights while we abstain from any greater injury to our enemies than is necessary to maintain them, and hold ourselves ready for forgiveness when they are maintained.
(Sydney Smith, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.