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even when in possession of some knowledge of God, is ever mixing up with it the worship of other gods than him. We see this in Laban's family ; we see it in the images of the Romish church: it appears in many who set up their idols in their hearts if not in their houses, who worship the creature more than the creator, and make gods of their belly, their riches, or pleasures, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. But you cannot serve God and Mammon. The commandment runs, “ Thou shalt have no other Gods but me,” whether these be invisible and ideal spirits, or statues of wood and stone graven by art and man's device, or images of wax and paintings on canvass, or unallowed objects of affection and desire in the heart within. “ Thou shalt not bow down to” any of “ them nor serve them.”
No sooner did Laban hear of the flight of Jacob, than he pursued him with a considerable force, and overtook him after a space
of seven days. And now he would certainly have done him some injury had not God interposed. “He came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.” Thus Laban was overawed, and after an ineffectual search for his gods, as he hesitates not to call them, and some chiding between him and Jacob, they made a covenant together, that neither now nor henceforth would they injure each other ; and thus they parted in peace, Laban returning to his home, and Jacob pursuing his way to Canaan.
We see from this history the value of a servant of God to others. Laban was prospered for Jacob's sake. We shall hereafter see the same in the house of the Egyptian where Joseph dwelt. The servants of God are but little esteemed by the men of the world, yet have they often been not only blessings to the families in which they reside, but preservers of the nations wherein they dwell. Had there been ten righteous men in Sodom, it had been spared for their sakes. How often does the Lord suffer the tares to grow, lest in rooting out them, the wheat should be destroyed. These stand in the gap for a land, when his wrath is awakened against its other guilty inhabitants ; in
pouring out its vials he shortens the days of judgment for the elect's sake; and the kindness which he shews to them extends to others with whom they are connected.
We see also the folly as well as the wickedness of injustice and oppression. Laban would have hindered Jacob from making any provision for himself; but it might not be. God disappointed all his schemes. In whatever way he changed the wages of Jacob, God made him still to prosper. Could the clouds be withdrawn which hide the measures of God's providence from our sight, we should see far more of this than we now suspect. In the case of many we should see that the withholding more than is meet tendeth to poverty. We should see God by numberless methods, now unobserved in his providence, disappointing their selfishness, and punishing their oppression.
We see also that God can protect his people. When Laban with superior numbers had overtaken Jacob, what could he do? Though he had physical force enough to make it in the power of his hand to hurt him, he dared not to exert it. God had checked him; and the influence upon his mind was such that he departed as a friend and ally from the man whom he had sought as an enemy. How often does God put a hook in the nose and a bridle in the lips of a furious man hastening to destroy, and sends him back by the way that he came! How often, when a man's ways please the Lord, does he cause his enemies to be at peace with him ! In the case of our having any adversaries ourselves, how can we do better than pray, that it may please God · to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts ?
Finally, let us learn to be thankful for the clear light of the gospel which we are privileged to enjoy. This, if duly studied and regarded, will preserve us from those failings and offences which appear in the patriarchs. The son of God hath come and spoken to us, and therefore we shall have sin, if we do those
things which were suffered in them.
« Unto whomsoever much is given, of him will be much required.” Thus we are bound to shew higher degrees of morality, purity, and holiness, than they; and if our righteousness does not in these respects exceed theirs, we shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God, while we ourselves are shut out. Oh! let all those, especially who profess to be the followers of the pure and holy Jesus, shew how much more pure are their morals, and how much more holy their lives, than the morals and lives of those who are followers of the world. Christian believers, I beseech you to make it manifest, by every part of your conduct, that the Gospel of Christ is a system of righteousness and goodness, and that it communicates the principles and produces the actions of all holy living, far beyond all maxims and motives which the world has ever known, or ever approves and teaches.