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hosts, neuter, but encampers,' active; in allusion to which, the Psalmist tells us', - The angel * of the Lord, nn, haneh, encampeth round about
them that fear him.' But this is not the first time that Jacob was blessed with such a vision: For long before this, when by his mother's direction he fled to Haran, for fear of his brother Esau, we read'), that' at a certain place by the way, he
saw in his sleep a ladder set upon the earth, and * the top of it reached unto heaven; and behold the
angels of God ascending and descending upon .it: To which, I think, we may fairly presume that our Saviour looked back, when he said to Philip and Nathanael *, . Hereafter ye shall see the · heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending • and descending upon the Son of Man.' Here we have the same wonderful sight described in the same words, and consequently with the same view, pointing out the Son of Man as the ladder of communication between heaven and earth. It was at this time, and under the impression of this mysterious exhibition, with all the gracious circumstances attending it, that Jacob, on his awaking out of sleep, vowed that famous vow 5 which has been so frequently and fervently recommended to general imitation, though one should think, not upon quite solid ground, either from the construction or
I Psalm xxxiv. 8.
2 Gen, xxvii. 43. 3 Gen, xxviii, 12.
4 St John i.g1. s Gen. xxviü. 20, 21, 22.
nature of itIf God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that * I come again to my Father's house in peace, then • the Lord shall be my God. Here we stop, and take this to be the matter of the vow, upon the conditions mentioned, which, by the alternative if, upon their failing, annulled the obligation of the
Is this consistent with Jacob's piety, or a pattern for us to follow, to be bargaining, as it were, with Jehovah? Indeed with such as think themselves of high enough rank to covenant with their Maker, such freedom of language might pass : But the humble christian will boggle at it, and be more inclined to adopt Joshua's unconditional reso. lution', · As for me, and my house, we will serve • Jehovah. Besides this semblance of impropriety, it appears that, in these patriarchal times, vowing always implied a promise to give something to Jehovah; as is plain from all the accounts we have of the practice, as well as from the frequent calls upon
the people to pay their vows; and is in fact the case in the present instance, tho' the too soon inserting the then, which there is no ground for in the original, keeps it out of sight. • If God will be with me • and if Jehovah will be my God, 16855, li La
leim, for Aleim, God to me, (Jacob knew well • what that connexion meant), then this stone shall • be God's house ; and of all that thou giveșt me, I
Chap. xxiv. 15.
' will surely give the tenth unto thee.' This shews the matter of the vow in its proper and true light'. VOL. II.
I As this latter part of Jacob's vow has been made much of in the long agitated controversy about tythes, it may not be amiss to offer here some scriptural observations upon that subject. We find that, at this time, Jehovah had made a donation to Jacob of a vast tract of country, (see the map of it Gen. xv. 18—21.), without the reservation of any part or portion, but all and whole in free gift to him, and his heirs for ever; and had further promised to be with him, and protect him in all his ways, V. 13, 14, 15. In grateful return for these undeserved favours, of which he always retained the most profound sense, Gen. xxxii. 10. xlviii. 15, 16. the patriarch binds and obliges himself to make full and frank cession of the tenth part back to the gracious donor, to be at his disposal in all time coming. So from this time, and by this deed, Jehovah, the original Lord of the land, became proprietor of the tenth; and could, by this newly acquired right, settle it in what way, and upon whom he pleased. Accordingly, when he had brought Jacob's posterity out of Egypt, and after forty years trial of them in the wilderness, had settled them in the promised land, which he appointed to be divided among their several tribes by lot, he chose the tribe of Levi to himself, to be his Priests, in room of the first-born, and assigned to them, in that character, the tenth, which Jacob had given back, instead of the pora tion of land which would have fallen to them by lot. Now let it be remembered, that by the general disposition of things at that time, the tribe of Levi, now become the clergy-part of the nation, had an antecedent title to their twelfth share of the land, with all the profits arising from it, on the same footing with the rest of their brethren. Of all this their sacred destination denuded them; and it was not only reasonable, but even necessary, that some provision should be made for them, as an equivalent for their share of the ground, and a compensation for their public service. I do not mean to enter into the merits of this cause, but would only hint to the christian clergy, who claim the tenth as of divine right, not to rest their claim on this old Levitical precedent, unless they could produce the same titles wbich, we see, the Levites in their lay-state had, to the greater part of what was thus al. lotted to them.
We read of another angelic interference that Jacob had', as to which, Moses says, that it was ar ,
man ’ that appeared to him, and wrestled with him. The prophet says it was an angel. The patriarch himself seems to have viewed the apparition in a higher light than either man or angel, in our common" acceptation : ‘I will not • let thee go,' said he, ' except thou bless me; and "he blessed him there, and Jacob called the .name of the place -130, Peni-al, (the face of God), for I have seen God face to face, and my life is
preserved. Which will account for, and vindicate, that strange-sounding expression in the 24th Psalm, . This is the generation of them that seek * thy faee, O Jacob,' which the LXX. and Jerom turn into the face of the God of Jacob,' and our margin,' thy face, O God of Jacob;' but which, from this. Penial appearance, may be better expressed (as such apostrophes are frequent) by that face · which thou, O Jacob, saw at Peni-al, and rejoiced • in it. So true is the observation I have so often made, and indeed it cannot be made too often, about the self-interpreting sufficiency of the Bible. Now, as Jacob is acknowledged to have been a representative, and eminent type of the church, and as in that capacity he was blessed with these visions or sights of Mahanim, we may now find out the meaning and pertinency of the allusion before us, in the long-continued protection and support of the church, under the many pressures and dangers to which she has been exposed in general, and our own small portion of her in particular, to such a degree, indeed, that, according to a common phrase, there certainly is a visible hand of Providence in it. May we not observe too, that I may let no apparent beauty of this poem pass unnoticed, a striking analogy, or similarity of idea between the dagluth, * banners,' in the 4th and 10th verses, and the mahanim, “encampers,' here, both military terms, the one clothing her with terror-'terrible as an army . with banners,' the other making her a most delightful object to look at-Return, O. Shulamite, that we may look upon thee, with thy heavenly chorus of Mahanim about thee?
i Gen. xxxii. 24-30, and explained Hosea xii. 4. 5. 2 Compare Heb. vii. 7. 'the less is blessed of the greater.!