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may come ?
ion of Christ, would have unjustly adhered to the Jews to the present day. Shall we do evil, that good
God forbid ! The condemnation of those who act from such a motive is just.
Those words in Psalm I. are often verified, These things hast thou done and I kept silence : but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.' Jacob's conduct in that affair now seemed ready to avenge itself upon him, and he might be apprehensive of the curse, respecting which he had previously so easily satisfied himself with the unmeaning words of his mother. How easily might such thoughts as the following occur to him : “ Thy father did not in reality bless thee, but Esau, his first born, for whom thou didst give thyself out. The blessing has no reference to thee. Thou art a deceiver, and that of the basest kind. Although thou hast imposed upon thy venerable father, and abused his lamentable blindness, which ought to have induced thee to act with the greatest sincerity; yet the eye of God has only been the more acutely fixed upon thee; thou hast been unable to deceive Him. Thou art a deceiver ; thou art worthy of death! And lo! Esau, who was blessed in thy person, is now coming against thee with four hundred men, to execute, as a servant of Divine justice, the sentence of death upon thee! Thou oughtest to have acknowledged, confessed, and made reparation for thy fault. The long-restrained wrath of God is awaking over thee.
It is now too late. How couldst thou dare, how could such a man as thou venture to suppose that God had said to thee, “I will do thee good.'
Wilt thou make God the minister of sin, by supposing that he will be gracious to such a wretch as thou art ? The Devil must have been justly permitted to suggest such pleasing thoughts to thee, in order the more infallibly to destroy thee. Instead of making the commencement with repentance, thou hast imagined thyself, to thy own injury, in a state of grace. It will now be proved. Esau—what a noble character he is compared with thee! He has threatened thee with death; and what else dost thou deserve at his hands? Hast thou not most basely endeavored to rob and murder him, by cunningly stealing the blessing intended for, and in reality pronounced upon him ? 'Be Lord over thy brother ! it was said in the blessing which thou didst so unjustly seek to appropriate to thyself. Dost thou not now evidently see who has experienced the fulfilment of it ? Thou, a poor servant; he, a lord with four hundred men ; and thou entirely in his hand, O thou poor deceived Jacob! Where is there a poorer man than thou ?" And he lifted
his voice and wept bitterly.
And are you, my friends, entirely unacquainted with trials of this kind ? I can scarcely suppose it, unless you are novices in the Christian course.
You have put on the armor, Until you are at liberty to put it off, many things may occur, of which it is unnecessary now to speak in detail. Let this suffice; if you are children, call upon the Father, who without respect of persons, judgeth according to every man's work. Therefore pass the time of your sojourning here in fear. If you are children, you will not be without chastisement; and the
dearer the child the sharper the discipline. David once said when it went well with him, I shall never be moved ;' for the Lord, in his mercy, had made his mountain to stand strong. But no sooner did he hide his face than he was troubled. Therefore be not high-minded, but humble. Be not self-confident, but take heed lest thou fall, whilst thinking thou art standing. Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Build thy house upon the rock, and take heed lest thou regard that as a rock, which is not so in reality. And though it be the rock, yet remember how easily thou mayest build wood and stubble upon it, which the fire will destroy. If it be genuine gold, it must still pass through the fire. For the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. “Thy filthiness is so abominable, it is said in Ezekiel xxiv. 13, that although I have purged thee, yet thou wast not cleansed, therefore thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee.'
The holy Patriarch wrestled in faith with the temptations above-mentioned, and prayed, or at least wished to do so, and to hold converse with the Lord. The following was probably his train of thought and anxious inquiry : “ Art thou then really my God and Father, or art thou so no longer ? Have I deceived myself in firmly believing, that notwithstanding all my unworthiness, thou lovest me, that I might be so much the more to the praise of the glory of thy grace, after seeing and tasting it, and when I loved and praised thee on account of it? Certainly it can never be. But the feeling of it is now so much obscured, and so doubtful, that I can no longer
rejoice in it; especially now, in this my time of trouble, when I so particularly need it. O look upon me therefore in mercy, and cause thy face to shine! Cast a friendly ray into my darkness."
In this manner probably he prayed. “And there wrestled a man with him. Wonderful occurrence. What terror must it have inspired ! Jacob justly thought himself quite alone. All at once he suddenly feels himself laid hold of by some one.
Who it is he knows not; he is only conscious that it is not a wild beast seeking to devour him, but a man. This man does not appear to be his friend, but his foe-perhaps one of Esau's four hundred men. Whoever it is, he struggles with him. He lays hold of the terrified patriarch in such a manner as if he would- either push him
away from his place, or throw him upon the ground. Jacob defends himself; he grasps his antagonist, whom he does not yet know, and refuses either to move from the spot, or to let himself be thrown down. He exerts all his strength, and the conflict lasts until the breaking of the day
Who was this man? Jacob did not know at first : but by degrees it became apparent to him who he was. If we form an opinion of him from the circumstance of his seeing that he prevailed not against Jacob,' we shall think very differently of him on reading what immediately follows : he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint,' for to this, a more than human power is requisite. When he says, ' Let me go,' he appears inferior to Jacob, and dependent upon him. But when Jacob
entreats his blessing—he exalts him far above him, and even above his father Isaac, who had already blessed him in the name of God. When the man gives him the name of Israel, and explains to him the meaning of that appellation, by telling him with whom he had been wrestling, and over whom he has prevailed
with God and with men'-every veil falls away, and the man presents himself to us in his true form. Although he declines mentioning his name, in reply to Jacob's simple question, yet he reveals it the more clearly by the act of his blessing him there.' when the sun arose in Jacob's comprehension, upon the whole affair, he called the place Peniel ; .for,' said he, 'I have seen God face to face, and my
“Extraordinary occurrence! Who can fathom it?!! What! does this appear so strange to you, although you have seen the Son of man under such entirely different circumstances? Remember that it was predicted of old, that His name should be called “Wonderful.'
This man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. This man had for a time, assumed a human body, in order to wrestle with Jacob bodily. He seized him with his hands, and held him fast with his arms, in order to expel him from the place, or else throw him upon the ground. Can we suppose that complete silence was observed during the conflict; and that nothing more was spoken than what we find recorded ? We can scarcely imagine it. But may we venture to fill up the gap which Moses has left here, by our own suppositions, if they are religious, founded on the word