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she bore many, and still in the sons of Joseph her stem flourishes proudly. All the hostility of his brethren-which the old father, since Joseph forgave them, indulgently compares to an open and drawn conflict,- has only made him great ; every adverse fortune has given him new means and powers. Could Jacob describe more beautifully the first officer of Egypt, who had attained such eminence in political wisdom, than under the figure of a dexterous archer ? Could be extol bim more worthily than by comparing him to that man, who wrestled with God, and conquered his blessing? It was the blessing of that man's God, which helped him ; the blessing of the God of bis ancestors will it be, which bestows upon him the blessings vouchsafed to his people. Overflowing with thankfulness the spirit of the dying patriarch flies forth over mountain and deep, from the unholy plains of Egypt to higher and higher hills, till it rests on the everlasting heights, and twines, out of all that is beautiful in nature, a garland for the distinguished among his brethren.-}t is the same with what is said of the rest of the brothers : the representation of each of them in the form of an animal or of a tree, is natural, striking, and in every instance-even in that of Issachar-noble. What Lessing has remarked of the fables of Æsop is applicable to all kinds of symbolical language: figures of animals best describe the character, the disposition, the distinguishing qualities of every individual. Where could such figures, then, be more appropriately employed than in this great and perpetual register of the fortune of generations to come! Judah as a lion, Dan as a serpent, Benjamin as a wolf, Issachar as a peaceable, unconcerned beast of burthen, looking quietly round, are better painted than they could have been with any parade of words ; for words are for the most part but fading flowers of the season, with which they change both in form and signification : the character of animals remains the same, and the style of description which is founded on it corresponds entirely with the language, the scenes and employments of the herdsman and patriarch. He had no images of comparison in his mind, no other words at his tongue : bis blessing is a testament in pictured characters.
Take the example of the lion Judah : I will confine myself at present to the imagery of his benediction. It is the will of Jacob that Judah should be the most honoured among his brethren, their leader, a prince in the midst of them, and the conqueror of all assailants. He expresses this by the figure of a kingly lion, who goes up proudly from the prey, and crouching in haughty repose
is conscious that none will dare to rouse him. Or without a simile : Judah shall take the place of the first-born, and the sceptre of patriarchal command shall not drop from his hands till he shall render all peaceful, and to him the people or tribes shall cordially unite themselves, and hold firmly of his side.* He takes possession of the land, (v. 11.) dismounts from his beast, and finds himself in so fertile a country that he can tie his ass to the choicest wine twigs, wash his garments in wine, and blanch his teeth with milk. Through the whole, it seems, the champion, the king, the proud but yet amiable victor stands before the eyes of the old man in the person of his son. He sees his noble port, the sparkling eyes, the milk white teeth ; he sees him worthy to be the future leader of his brethren, blessings flowing from his lips, and heroism flashing from his eyes. He celebrates him with all these traits : in short, here is the magnificent, the royal blessing :
Judah thou !
A young lion is Judah ;
* Whatever meaning is given to the word ohv, (Shiloh) the parallelism of the passage demands that it should mean something, which answers to the obedience, the voluntary subjection of the nations ; or else to the peaceable union of the tribes under Judah: and now you may choose for yourself whether you will have it,
A RULER, a Selvoetgen conjectures, or A PACIFICATOR, according to the commou explanation, or TILL HE HAS WON THE SPOIL, from the Arabie, which yet is þardly conformable to the parallelism just alluded to; or, according to the reading of the Vulgate,
Mission, Embassy, which should come to ask for peace, and to bring presents : (Micah, i. 14. 1 Kings, ix. 16.) or, according to the old division of the word, which Cocceius and Poole adopted and several later writers have favoured, Shi-lo,
TILL MEN BRING HIM GIFTS ; tbough such a division is on several accounts objectionable : or you may have the word mean
PEACE, SECURITY, PROSPERITY, as the following verse describes it :-it is not necessary to my purpose to decide between these. Let it be secu. rity, peace, spoil, dominion, gifts, or whatever belongs to Judah as the hero: the subjection of the people follows, and the description becomes complete.
Author's note. This is a very scanty list of the interpretations that have been put upon this much tormented word ; but it is not perhaps worth while to fill it. Herder, io bis spirit of the Hebrew poetry, translates-settled peace : and this, or sometbing like it, we are persuaded is the true meaning of the term. Dr. Geddes renders it “ peaceful prosperity," which may seem stilf better.
He coucheth, he layeth himself down, as a lion,
Never will the sceptre cease from Judah,
Then bindeth he his foal to the vine,
Would you read the finest commentary on the words, read Isaiah. He was himself of Judah, a regal prophet. He represents his Messiah, the son of David, in all the majesty of his ancestor and progenitor, as a king, as a lion, as a conqueror, as a peaceful prince, as triumphant in red apparel "like the garments of him that treadeth the wine-press," yet with the gentle speech of pure innocence and mildness. The whole manner of Isaiah lies as it were in these images.—A royal lion in prophecy and language, David, the first and most powerful king out of Judah was so in exploits : the Messiah, as the greatest son of Judah, is so here as the Ideal.
But I am dwelling almost too long on this first part of the illustration of Jacob's blessing from the characters of his sons : I come to the second reflection which I have to add, how wholly the spirit of the dying father hovers over the land of promise, after which even his bones are languishing. There, far off, he builds habitations for his sons, and bestows on them what each of their hearts would desire :--on Judab a land full of wine and milk, and the sceptre among his brethren ; on Zebulon the sea-coast, a secure haven for shipping and commerce : Issachar's is a quiet rural prospect; Dan, as his name imports, is to judge his people ; and Gad to pursue his foes. So it is with the rest. We do not find that each prediction was perfectly fulfilled, because the country was not occupied and divided exactly according to the idea of Jacob and Moses : in general, however, it is undeniable, that Israel took possession of its inheritance in the land of promise according to the model of this prophetical arrangement. Where such coincidence fails to appear, we must not be seeking for mysteries, but acknowledge that we are not acquainted in every little particular with the Hebrew history. The case is here as with that piece of land in the country of the Amorites, which Jacob especially assigns to Joseph, (Genes. xlviii. 22.) or, as it is with the father of Melchisedec. They are only in this sense mysteries, that we know nothing about them ; that among the fragments of these primitive times no historical account of them has been transmitted. We have only to thank God for what we possess; and the best thanks is a good understanding of it. More in my next of the blessing of Moses, the song of Deborah, and other songs. Farewell.
ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION.
We occasionally hear much of revivals of religion,---or, as they are sometimes also called, reformations. And if, by a revival of religion, is meant a reformation from a thoughtless and stupid life, to a life of serious consideration and earnestness in duty, from selfishness to benevolence, from worldly mindedness to a solemn regard to the concerns of eternity, and from vicious dispositions and habits to those of christian piety and virtue, there is no intelligence that can be so important, or that should be so interesting. The advancement of the objects of our religion, is the advancement of the everlasting improvement and happiness of those who receive and obey it. Surely, therefore, it should fill our hearts with pious gratitude and joy, to learn that any have been recovered from the snares of temptation, and the bondage of depraved passions ; and brought to the liberty, and life, and hopes of the gospel. The genuine repentance of a single sinner gives joy even to the angels in heaven; and will it not also rejoice our hearts, in proportion as we have the tem. per and affections of angels ?
* The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (vit. 3.) describes Meichisedec as “ without father, without inother, without descent, &c." He means nothing more than that the descent of that prince was not recorded, as nothing is known of him but the single incident related Genesis xiv. This oinission seemed remarkable, because Moses and indeed all the Eastern writers were so fond of genealogies, and rarely omitted distinguisbing the persons of whom they spoke by recounting the name of their several fathers at least. Of this custoin the scriptures every where afford continual examples.--Shilo even speaks of Sarah as without mother, and not a partaker of feinale extraction, Innens JAVELS ALUETOXos, because only the name of her father Terah is mentioned, and we are but iaforiped who her mother was not. Gen. xx. 12.
There is nothing so desirable, nothing for which we ought so earnestly to pray, as for a revival of religion ;-an actual reformation among men. But before we pray for it, we ought distinctly to understand what it is that we ask of God. Mistaken notions I think, bave prevailed on this subject; and either from aversion to the view of religion, in which these mistakes have originated, or from dread of their consequences, the very terms, a revival of religion, have become suspicious. Let us then attempt to form as clear and just conceptions as we can of religion; and comparing our hearts and characters with its principles and objects, inquire whether a faithful application of its principles, and exercise of its duties, could not produce effects on our hearts and conduct, to be fairly accounted a revival of religion.
First, then, What is religion ?
It has been defined to be, “virtue, founded upon reverence of God, and expectation of future rewards and punishments.” It is derived from a word that signifies "to bind fast;"* and it properly signifies, that sense of obligation to God, which binds the heart and will to his service. To be religious therefore, is to have this sense of obligation to God. And that only is a religious feeling, or disposition, or affection, which is thus excited in us; that only is a religious action, or course of conduct, to which we are prompted by this sense of obligation to God. There is however a right, and a wrong sense of obligation to God; and there are just and unjust views of the nature of God, and of his service. There are therefore proportionally just and unjust views of religion, even among those who profess to feel, and are accustomed to appeal to, this sense of obligation. We know, for example, how unjust were those views of religion, under the influence of which Paul persecuted and wasted the christian church. Yet so far was Paul right, that he acted from a strong sense of obligation to God. He verily thought that he was doing God service. His mistake was, in his views of the service of God. And the great change in Paul's heart and conduct in becoming a christian, is to be ascribed to the change he obtained in his views of the temper and duties God requires of those who would serve him bere, and enjoy hina hereafter. In answering the question, what is religion? It is therefore of the last importance to conceive rightly of the service of God. The example of Paul, before his conversion, is not a solitary one, of a strong sense of obligation to God, impelling to a remorseless violation even of some of the plainest expressions of God's will.