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and then we have the whole relation of the extraordinary circumstance begun to be recorded in the text. “ And Jacob was left alone, and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him what is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with man, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him and said, tell me I pray thee, thy
And he said, wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name ? and he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved. And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.' Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew that shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day : because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank.”
This is clearly the account of a real transaction. The terms in which it is expressed evidently describe it as such, and the lameness of Jacob demonstrates that there was a trial of corporeal strength.
But it was a real transaction with a figurative import, and essentially spiritual in its nature and object. The prophet Hosea teaches us, what that import is, and shews us what was its nature and object. He says, “ By his strength he had power with God: yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed : he wept, and made supplication unto him.” Comparing therefore the language of the historian and the prophet together, we are authorised in proposing this remarkable circumstance in Jacob's history to you, as a representation and example of prayer.
I. First consider who the personage was that now appeared to Jacob in the form of a man and wrestled with him. The prophet calls him an angel, yet says, that Jacob had power with God. The sacred historian relates that this divine antagonist of Jacob, in suffering himself to be overcome, said, " as a prince hast thou power with God,” and that Jacob himself, finally becoming perfectly assured who and what he was, exclaims in devout admiration and gratitude, “ I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved," and in token thereof called the name of the place Penuel, i. e. the face of God. It seems clear therefore that this was another manifestation of the second person of the divine Trinity. He appears in a bodily form, yet he speaks of himself as God, which no created angel would have done; and he is spoken of by the patriarch as God, language which the Holy Spirit would not have put into his mouth, had not this been the same as he, of whom he afterwards caused the Apostle to write in these decisive terms, Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever, Amen."
II. Notice, in the second place, that this wrestling of Jacob is a representation of the fervency of spirit which should be used in prayer. Wrestling is one of the greatest efforts of the human body : every nerve and muscle is strained in it to the utmost; all parts of the frame are put into violent action, and made to exert their greatest force to overthrow the opponent; various postures are assumed, and ingenuity and skill are brought into the contest, as well as physical strength, in order to secure the victory. Thus should we be fervent in spirit when we pray. We should bring all the powers of our minds, and all the strongest feelings of our hearts into this duty. Fixed attention and intense earnestness should be kept up. Arguments should be sought for, and pleas of the most prevailing nature used. Weeping and sup-. plication, in imitation of Jacob, yea, strong crying and tears, in imitation of the Saviour himself in his human nature, must often be necessary; and highly is this fervency felt, “when the spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” All who have accustomed themselves to prayer as a duty, and who also are sincerely
persons of prayer, know the difficulty of keeping up a proper degree of fervency; all lament their occasional coldness of heart and inattention of mind; yet all from frequent experience know what it is to wrestle with God; and oh! that we all of us were more spiritually and intensely affected in our supplications and prayers : for “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” whether it be offered for others or for himself.
III. Thirdly, observe that the prayer which is here recorded, is itself a beautiful specimen of the manner in which we should pray in such cases. We do not present it to you as a part of the supplication which he made in his wrestling, for it appears to have been offered previously, but it is altogether on the subject then so near his heart, and is expressive of great fervency. It begins as all prayer should begin, with a devout recognition of God and his mercies; it acknowledges the supplicant's own unworthiness, and the Lord's unmerited goodness and
mercy; it proceeds to state, in a very