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had laid him to sleep on the sands of the wilderness, his head supported on a pillow of stone, and his staff and scrip his only riches. But in his dream he saw Heaven opened, and “hehold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to Heaven, and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord, the God of Abraham thy father and the God of Isaac; the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south; and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that of which I have spoken to thee. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not! and he said, how dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this the gate of Heaven!"

In this memorable history are many circumstances which might afford us useful lessons, and any one of which would be a sufficient and copious subject for our morning's meditation. The first and most striking, perhaps, is the strange and awful difference which frequently is found between the manners in which the same persons are accounted of by man and by God; and how little the Lord seeth as man seeth, in His estimate and choice of those whom He delights to favour. Who that had seen the forlorn son of Isaac in his journey over that desolate land, unsheltered, unattended, on foot, and struggling with fatigue and hunger, “a Syrian ready to perish” in the waste howling wilderness, would have guessed in this unhappy wanderer the founder of a mighty nation? Who that had known the circumstances of fraud and meanness which had compelled his flight, would have expected to find in the supplanter Jacob, an Israel, “the prince of God," to whose descendants, above all the earth, the knowledge of the true God should be entrusted ; and from whose loins that Saviour was, in His mortal nature, to arise, in whom not the

often put

tribes of Israel alone, but all the nations of the world were, in after days, to be pronounced blessed?

Yet thus it is that the wisdom of the wise to shame; that God, even in the affairs of this world, should seem, on certain occasions, to delight in lowering the mighty and raising the humble on high ; and that the riches of his grace are, sometimes, most abundantly shown in calling sinners to repentance, and choosing out for great and glorious ends, the most contemptible and unworthy instruments. These things should make the proud man humble, and they should keep the humble man from despair. They should warn the first on how slender a thread his own power or eminence depends; and how little reason he has to think those beneath him, who, notwithstanding their present and outward inferiority, may be, in truth, of higher estimation in the eyes of God than himself, and designed by God to far greater usefulness here, and hereafter to far more exalted glory. The second may learn from them, that however insignificant he may feel himself in the eyes of men, however unable to render God worthy service, or to contribute, in any perceivable degree, to the amendment or happiness of His creatures, yet, if he perform with good will what little is in his power, that little may, by God's blessing, in its effects be infinitely multiplied; while, at all events, so far as he himself is concerned, the very least of his endeavours is not lost in the sight or memory of the Most High, nor will be forgotten in that day when the widow's mite and the believer's cup of water shall in no wise lose their reward, and when he " who has been faithful in a few things,” shall, by the Judge of Heaven and earth, be “made ruler over many things.”

Another observation which we shall be naturally led to make in considering this passage of Scripture, is the constant reference and connexion, which the promises of the Old Testament maintain with that great and glorious event, to bring us to which the Old Testament itself is only, as it

a Schoolmaster.” To a wanderer like Jacob, it would have been a promise sufficiently comfortable to have been assured, by a heavenly vision, of the protection of God in his journey, and of a safe and prosperous return to the land which he left against his will, and constrainedly. It would have seemed an almost superfluous blessing to be told of the future greatness to which his descendants should be advanced, or to be reminded of the grant to the seed of Abraham of the land which he was now forsaking. But with neither of these points is the Heavenly promise terminated; not only is his family to become as numerous as the stars of Heaven, but through one of their number, all the nations of the earth are to be blessed ; and for his seed is reserved the glory of reconciling God to man, and opening to penitent sinners the gates of a better Paradise than that which Adam had forfeited.


Nor need we wonder that this constant connexion should be found between worldly and spiritual privileges in the promises made by God to the family of Abraham. It had the effect of serving three very important purposes. In the first place, the prophecies of the Messiah were more listened to and better remembered by a gross and carnal people, from being thus, as it were, inseparably bound up and linked with promises of earthly power and greatness. Secondly, when the former part of the prophecy was fulfilled by the increased multitude and extended power of Jacob's descendants, those descendants were naturally inclined to pay greater attention to and place more trust in the remainder, of whose fulfilment in the course of time they had thus received, as it were, the earnest. And above all, amid whatever disappointments and adversities might in the present life befall them, the constant and recorded renewal of such promises, together with all the different manifestations of God's power and protection, would serve to remind the pious Israelites that, however the possession of an earthly Canaan had failed to preserve them free from those calamities which are the common inheritance of mortals, there remained yet another and a better rest for the people of God, to which the Saviour who was promised to arise from the seed of Abraham, when He came, should open the

way. Nor can we,

on whom the ends of the world are come,” whose lot is fallen to play our parts in the last great scene of nature, the concluding mystery of redemption, fail to perceive from this constant reference to the coming of Christ in the older records of God's Providence, how noble and excellent are the privileges which we enjoy; how important in the eyes of God are those blessings, the knowledge of which is now open to our gratitude; and how great a necessity is laid on us to employ, to the furtherance of God's glory and our own salvation, those lights which the patriarchs saw dimly and from far, those mysteries which so many prophets desired to understand, but desired in vain !

Nor is this all. For, secondly, we may learn, from the union which I have noticed as universally observable in Scripture between the promise of worldly blessings and the opportunity of Heavenly graces, that the former of these are, in the eyes of the Allwise, only so far valuable as they are means of conducing to the latter; and that whatever wealth, whatever power, whatever personal or mental or worldly advantages the Most High may in His wisdom extend to us, are not blessings in themselves, but as a way to greater blessedness, -as gifts by the use and improvement of which we are required by our God to serve the cause of His Son, and entitle ourselves, (if I may venture to use the expression,) entitle ourselves, through faith, to a more illustrious reward hereafter.

If the Israelites were endowed beyond the nations of mankind, with wise and righteous laws, with a fertile and almost impregnable territory, with a race of valiant and victorious kings, and a God who, (while they kept His ways) was a wall of fire against their enemies round about them; if the kings of the wilderness did homage, and the lion banner of David and Solomon was reflected at once from the Mediterranean and the Euphrates; that the way of the Lord might be made known by their means upon earth, and that the saving health of the Messiah might become conspicuous to all nations.

My brethren, it has pleased the Almighty that the great nations to which we ourselves belong, is a great, a valiant, and an understanding nation : it has pleased Him to give us an empire in which the sun never sets, a commerce by which the remotest nations of the earth are become our

it was,

allies, our tributaries, I had almost said our neighbours ; and, by means (when regarded as human means, and dis-, tinct from His mysterious providence,) so inadequate, as to excite our alarm as well as our wonder, the sovereignty over these wide and populous heathen lands.

But is it for our sakes at He has given us these good gifts, and wrought these great marvels in our favour? Are we not rather set up on high in the earth, that we may show forth the light by which we are guided, and be the honoured instruments of diffusing these blessings which we ourselves enjoy, through every land where our will is law, through every tribe where our wisdom is held in reverence, and in every distant isle which our winged vessels visit?

If we value then (as who does not value?) our renown among mankind; if we exult (as who can help exulting ?) in the privileges which the providence of God has conferred on the British nation; if we are thankful (and God forbid we should be otherwise) for the means of usefulness in our power; and if we love (as who does not love?) our native land, its greatness and prosperity ; let us see that we, each of us in our station, are promoting to the best of our power, by example, by exertion, by liberality, by the practice of every Christian justice and virtue, the extension of God's truth among men, and the honour of that holy name whereby we are called.

There have been realms as famous as our own, and, in relation to the then extent and riches of the civilized world,) as powerful and as wealthy, of which the traveller sees nothing now but ruins in the midst of a wilderness, or where the mariner only finds a rock for fishers to spread their nets. Nineveh once reigned over the east; but where is Nineveh now? Tyre had once the commerce of the world; but what has become of Tyre? But if the repentance of Nineveh had been persevered in, her towers would have stood to this day. Had the daughter of Tyre brought her gifts to the Temple of God, she would have continued a queen for ever.

There is yet a third lesson to be drawn from the vision of God at Bethel, and the exclamation which I have noticed of the patriarch Jacob; I mean the unseen and pervad

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