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GENESIS XXXII. 24.
And Jacob was left alone : and there wrestled
a man with him until the breaking of the day.
The verse we have just read, forms a part of one of the most wonderful narratives contained in the Holy Scriptures; and upon which we intend to meditate on this and some future occasions.
Strengthened and refreshed by the promise, “I will do thee good,” the Patriarch Jacob, at the express command of his God, had removed from Haran, where for a long period he had served his uncle Laban, in order to return to his native land. This displeased Laban so much, that he went in pursuit of his son-in-law, and overtook him on Mount Gilead. His anger was inflamed against him to such a degree,
that he would certainly have done the Patriarch a serious injury: since he boasted that, with the help of God, he had power enough for that purpose, if God had not forbidden this Syrian, in a dream, to take heed not to speak otherwise than in a friendly manner to him ; although Rachel was, nevertheless, in peril of her life. At length every thing was amicably settled, and they parted in a peaceful and friendly man
Laban turned back; and whilst Jacob was proceeding on his journey, he was met, to his great comfort, by the angels of God. Thus pleasingly was he extricated from this trying situation.
Scarcely, however, had he been rescued from this danger, than he fell into another of a much more serious nature. The fury of his brother Esau, and his threat, "The days of mourning for my father are at hand, then will I slay my brother Jacob,” had compelled the latter to seek his safety in flight. When he returned into Esau's neighbourhood, his first concern was to gain his favour. He attempted to accomplish this by sending messengers to him; who, in the humblest terms, were to endeavour to secure his good will. But they soon returned with the
intelligence, that his brother Esau was coming to meet him, with four hundred men. Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed ;” and that with reason : for what other intentions could Esau have than such as were hostile ? And what had Jacob to oppose to such a host ? Nothing ; not even flight. What a distressing and helpless situation ! O God, into what painful circumstances dost thou sometimes suffer thy favourites to fall; and yet it is only for the attainment of the most blessed ends.
Jacob's anxiety, however, is not so great as to deprive him of all reflection ; although his confidence in God is not lively enough to render him as courageous as a young lion. He makes such prudent arrangements, that the possibility of escape is afforded to one part, should the other be destroyed by Esau. Nor did he neglect any thing which seemed likely to reconcile Esau, and win his heart: to which several considerable presents, which he prepared for that purpose, were intended to contribute.
But the pious Patriarch did not let the matter rest there ; he did not ground his confidence upon these arrangements, but upon God. the midst of his anxious preparations, he applied