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me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me. If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages ; then all the cattle bare speckled : and if he said thus, The ringstraked shall be thy hire, then bare all the cattle ringstraked. Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me.” It is to be noted therefore that herein was a special interposition of the providence of God, yet acting, as in this case was evident, and in all cases is really though not always evident, according to the rule of justice and equity.

But it may be said that Jacob had recourse to an expedient for procuring the cattle to himself which was not according to the rale of justice and equity. This we will proceed to consider. We read that Jacob pilled off the skin of green rods of different trees so as to make streakes of white in them, and placed them near the watering troughs that the flocks conceiving among them might thus bring forth a party-coloured offspring, and that the expedient answered, for the flocks

brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled and spotted ; that then Jacob placed the flocks so as that they might be constantly looking at those which thus were born coloured; and further, that Jacob made use of his rods whenever the stronger cattle conceived, and by these means became possessed of the best of the cattle, leaving to Laban only the feeblest. Now if this was a natural effect of the means adopted, which Jacob had learned by observation and experience, it may be said that he was justified in using his superior knowledge in the management of cattle to his own advantage. But I rather think that it was not according to natural order, and that such means had not before, and would not again, produce such effects ; that therefore Jacob had had some special direction from God respecting the methods he adopted ; and that these were supernaturally ordered so that they answered the intended purpose. It was the method which God chose to adopt to enable him to counteract the injustice and selfishness of Laban.

III. In the third place we will consider some of the circumstances of Jacob's departure which are also here recorded.

Laban and his sons became exceedingly enraged at the prosperity of Jacob, and probably meditated or even expressed some intention of violence towards him. He was therefore warned of God to return to his own country, and the presence and protection of God were promised to him. To prepare his wives for their departure he informs them of a dream which he had had, and in which the angel of God declared unto him, “ I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow to me: now arise, get thee out of this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.”

Two things are here to be noticed. It is said that the angel of God spake unto him in a dream; yet the angel said, I am the God of Bethel. Who and what then is this angel ? I take this opportunity of observing, what I might have done from some former passages of the Scripture history, that it must have been the Son of God himself, who had before appeared unto Abraham previous to the

destruction of Sodom, and who thus made discoveries of himself preparatory to that great manifestation, in which he “ was made ftesh and dwelt among us.” Thus was the world in some measure prepared for that wonderful mystery of the Gospel, God manifest in the flesh. The title which he here assumed would be peculiarly encouraging to Jacob; for when he appeared to him at Bethel, he said, “ I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac.” This would remind him of the covenant which the Lord had made with his fathers, and had renewed to him, and also of the additional promises which he had made to him individually; it would remind him also of his own vow, that the Lord should be his God, and that place the Lord's house ; and that also would tend to strengthen him. It is thus that God makes his grace according to our day, and is a very present help in every time of need.

Jacob and his family now leave the country, but secretly for fear of Laban. While he was busy at his sheep-shearing, and probably at some distance, they take their departure with all possible speed. But here a strange circumstance is added ; “ Rachel had stolen her father's images.”

What were these images? Doubtless they were those smaller representations of the heathen deities which they were wont to keep in their dwellings as their household gods : and this shews that Laban and his family, although they could speak of the true God, and probably had not wholly renounced his worship, had become tinctured with the abominations of the heathen, and had set up idols in their houses. Nay, it seems most probable that Rachel herself also was infected, and that she stole the images that they might be the guardians of her way, and the objects of her worship when she became settled in Canaan. And we find afterwards that when Jacob was warned by God to go to Bethel, and dwell and make his altar there, he had to command his household to put away their strange gods, which no doubt were these Teraphim of Rachel's, and others of a similar kind. The human heart is prone to idolatry, and

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