« PrécédentContinuer »
rection and the life; and then the frequent ob. fervation of others in affliction, will have the noblest and most falutary influence in mortifying worldly affections. You may alfo fometimes fee the triumph of faith in the joyful departure of believers, which is one of the most edifying and comfortable fights that any Chriftian can behold.
(5) In the last place, I would recall to your minds, and earnefly recommend to your meditation, what made a principal branch of the doctrinal part of this fubject," the cross of Chrift." By this the believer will indeed crucify the world. Reafon and experience may wound the world, fo to fpcak; but the cross of Chrift pierces it to the heart. Shall we murmur at the crofs, when our Redeemer bore it? Are not the thoughts of what he fuffered, and what we deferved, fufficient to eradicate from our minds every the leaft inclination to what is provoking to him? Are not the thoughts of what he purchased, fufficient to deftroy in our hearts the leaft difpofition to place our happiness here? The thoughts of the cross of Chrift are strengthening as well as inftructive. We are drawn as it were by the power of fympathy, emboldened by his example, and animated by his conqueft. Is not the Chriftian, when he is in full contemplation of this great object, faying, O most merciful Saviour, fhall I any more idolize that world which crucified thee? fhall I be afraid of their fcorn who infulted thee? fhall 1 refuse any
'part of his will, who, by the crofs, has glori'fied thee?'
Let us conclude by attempting to say, in faith, what God grant every one of us may be able to fay in the awful hour of the laft conflict: "O death, where is thy fting! O grave, where is "thy victory! The fting of death is fin, and "the strength of fin is the law; but thanks be "to God, which giveth us the victory through "our Lord Jefus Chrift."
Fervency and importunity in prayer.
GENESIS XXxii. 26.
And he faid, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
Y brethren, real communion with God is a bleffing of fuch ineftimable value, that it cannot be fought with too great earneftnefs, or maintained with too much care. If it is no fable, that God vouchfafes to his people, on Jome occafions, a sense of his gracious presence, and, as it were, vifits them in love; with what fervour should they defire, with what diligence fhould they improve, fo great a mercy! In a particular manner, when a good man hath in view, either an important and difficult duty, or a dangerous trial, it is his intereft to implore, with the greatest importunity, the prefence and countenance of God, which only can effectually direct him in the one, and fupport him in the other. This, my brethren, ought to be our concern at prefent, as we have in view a very folemn approach to God, viz. laying hold of one of the feals of his covenant: what trials may be before us, or near us, it is impoffible to know.
The words I have read relate to a remarkable paffage of the patriarch Jacob's life. He was now returning from Padan-aram with a numerous family, and great fubftance, and had received information that his brother Efau was coming to meet him with four hundred men. We are
told, y 7. of the chapter, that he was "greatly "afraid and diftreffed," being, in all probability, quite uncertain whether his brother was coming with a friendly or a hoftile intention; or rather, having great reason to fufpect the latter to be the cafe. He rofe up, we are told, long before day, and fent his wives, his children, and cattle, over the brook Jabbock and as it follows, in the 24th verfe, "Jacob was left alone and "there wrestled a man with him, until the break"ing of the day. And when he saw that he pre"vailed not against him, he touched the hollow "of his thigh: and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. "And he said, Let me go, for the day break"eth and he faid, I will not let thee cept thou blefs me."
Some of the fathers, and alfo fome of the Jewish writers, fuppofe that all this was done in prophetic vifion, to reprefent to him the diffi culties that were yet before him, which, by faith and patience, he was to overcome. But it is more reasonable to think, that this was in truth the appearance of an angel to him; and indeed moft probably of the angel of the covenant; becaufe, from the paffage itself, it appears that he had "prevailed with God." The fame thing
we are affured of by the prophet Hofea, chap. xii. 3. 4. "He took his brother by the heel in "the womb, and by his ftrength he had power "with God: yea, he had power over the angel, "and prevailed: he wept and made fupplication "unto him: he found him in Beth-el, and there "he fpake with us." From this paffage alfo we learn, that it was the fame who met with him at Beth-el. Some think, with a good deal of probability, that this attack was made upon him by way of punishment for the weakness of his faith; that though he had received the promife, he should yet be under fo great a terror at the approach of his brother. In this indeed he was an example of what happens to believers in every age. Paft mercies are forgotten at the approach of future trials; therefore the fame God who visited at Beth el, and promised to be with him, now meets him in difpleasure, and threatens to destroy him: but by "weeping and fupplica. ❝tion" he not only obtained his prefervation, but a further bleffing. It is alfo the opinion of many, that the wrestling or conflict was literal and real for fome time, and that Jacob perhaps took it to be one of Ef's attendants who had come to surprise him in the night; but that at last he perceived his mistake, when the angel, by a flight touch of his thigh, fhewed him, that, if he had pleased, he might eafily have destroyed him. Then, as he had contended with his fuppofed adversary, he now continues the ftruggle, by infifting upon a bleffing; which he obtains, in fuch terms as carry in them a commendation