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earth, he saw not; the perfume of the flowers and the song of the birds were unheeded ; with eyes, half-blinded by tears he could not check, turned ever towards the encampment which contained all he loved, he journeyed sadly until it faded from his sight.
He held on his way until the sun sank beneath the horizon, and then sat down upon a stone near the shadow of a pleasant grove, and gave himself up to the contemplation of his gloomy condition. He was alone-quite alone -he had deceived his father, and though he had not cursed him, yet he feared Jehovah's wrath rather than his confirmation of the craftily obtained blessing. He was compelled to leave all the friends and companions of youth and riper age, and harder than all-his mother, and he fled from the wrath and hatred of the being against whose cheek his head had so often rested in the sweet sleep of infancy, who had been nursed and caressed upon the same lap, and who had grown up with him like a twin plant. Lost in thought he sat until night closed. Turning his eyes towards the heavens he saw the
• Ethereal night, where long white clouds Streaked the deep purple, and unnumber'd stars Spangled the wonderful mysterious vault With things that looked as if they would be suns. So beautiful, unnumbered and endearing, Not dazzling, and yet drawing towards them.” And then, placing a stone whereon to lay his throbbing head, he endeavoured to find repose.
He slept : and though his head rested upon a stony pillow and the hard ground was his bed. Yet the azure curtain stretched above him was spangled with thousands of gems brighter than those which adorn the mightiest monarch's couch, and the heavy dews fell with delightful coolness upon his fevered brow. And truly monarchs might have cast away their diadems to obtain the blessed vision of the lonely wanderer.
In his sleep, the Lord visited him and comforted his soul. Heaven opened before his astonished eyes, and shining figures clothed in spotless garments descended by a ladder whose foot rested upon the earth whilst the top was lost in a flood of light. But oh! wondrous sight ! in the midst of a pillar of brightness,
so surpassingly glorious that the sleeper was compelled to veil his eyes, there stood the Lord. In a voice of merciful encouragement and love he pronounced these words, “I am the Lord 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 east and to the west, to the north and to the south; and in thy seed shall all families of the earth be blessed. And behold I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places, whithersoever thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”
With these sweet and precious words sounding in his ears Jacob awoke. The sun had arisen upon the earth, but its splendour seemed dim to eyes that had so recently caught a glimpse of the glorious majesty of heaven. He looked around with a feeling of awful veneration and exclaimed, fearing that he had been too bold in sleeping in a spot which Jehovah had deigned to visit, “Surely, the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not ! How should it be reverenced! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven!"
And Jacob took the stone upon which his head had rested, and set it up for a pillar, that it might be a lasting memorial of this great event! he called it Bethel, signifying the House of God, and consecrated it by pouring oil upon the top of it. Then he knelt and returned thanks to the Lord who had so graciously visited him, and vowed a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in the 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 shall the Lord be my God ; and this stone which I have set for a pillar shall be God's house; and of all that Thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.”
Mark the spirit of humble dependence and submission to God's will in this prayer of Jacob - he asks not for wealth, or for power, or high honor,—nor for goodly raiment and luxurious food—but merely the necessaries of life-“food to eat and raiment to put on.” Again see his reverence for the place God had condescended to choose for the revelation of His will. Oh! beware that none of us forget, when in the “House of God," that it is “the gate of Heaven.” With what deep and heartfelt reverence ought we to regard that sacred place, for "surely the Lord is in this place;" then take heed that by trifling actions or wandering thoughts we do not shew that “we know it not." Go not into the House of God with a mind and heart occupied with the affairs of the world; go not with a mere formal devotion, or from compliance with a decent custom; but let the whole heart be lifted up at so near an approach to the presence of God, and the whole soul be filled with thankfulness, and earnest longing after so blessed a privilege, and be ready to exclaim with the Psalmist, “How amiable are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! My soul longeth, yea, fainteth for the courts of the Lord. For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand !"