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Tection and the life; and then the frequent ob.
fervation of others in affliction, will have the
noblest and most salutary influence in mortifying
worldly affections. You may also sometimes see
the triumph of faith in the joyful departure of
believers, which is one of the most edifying
and comfortable fights that any Christian can be-
hold.

(5) In the last place, I would recall to your
minds, and earnestly recommend to your medi.
tation, what made a principal branch of the doc.
trinal part of this subject, “ the cross of Christ.”
By this the believer will indeed crucify the
world. Reafon and experience may wound the
world, so to spcak; but the cross of Chrift
pierces it to the heart. Shall we murmur at the
cross, when our Redeemer bore it ! Are not
the thoughts of what he suffered, and what we
deserved, fufficient to eradicate from our minds
every the least inclination to what is provoking
to hiin? Are not the thoughts of what he pur-
chased, sufficient to destroy in our hearts the
least disposition to place our happiness here? The
thoughts of the cross of Christ are strengthening
as well as instructive. We are drawn as it were
by the power of sympathy, emboldened by his
example, and animated by bis conqueft. is not
the Christian, when he is in full contemplation
of this great object, saying, ' O most merciful
• Saviour, Mall I any more idolize that world

which crucified thee? fhall I be afraid of their • fcorn who insuited thee? shall I refuse any

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• part of his will, who, by the cross, has glori« fied thée ?'

Let us conclude by attempting to fay, in faith, what God grant every one of us may be able to fay in the awful hour of the last conflict: “O “ death, where is thy fting! O grave, where is “ thy victory! The sting of death is fin, and “ the strength of fin is the law; but thanks be “ to God, which giveth us the victory through " our Lord Jesus Christ."

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258

S E R M N

XI.

Fervency and importunity in prayer.

GENESIS xxxii. 26.

And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou

bless me.

M

Y brethren, real communion with God

is a blessing of such inestimable value, that it cannot be fought with too great earneftness, or maintained with too much care. If it is no fable, that God vouchsafes to his people, on fome occasions, a sense of his gracious presence, and, as it were, visits them in love; with what fervour should they desire, with what diligence 1hould they improve, so great a mercy ! particular manner, when a good man hath in view, either an important and difficult duty, or a dangerous trial, it is his interest to implore, with the greatest importunity, the presence and countenance of God, which only can effe ctually direct him in the one, and support him in the other. This, my breihren, ought to be our concern at present, as we have in view a very folemn approach to God, viz. laying hold of one of the seals of his covenant : what trials may be before us, or near us, it is imposible to know.

The

We are

The words I have read relate to a remarkable passage of the patriarch Jacob's life. He was now returning from Padan-aram with a numerous family, and great substance, and had received information that his brother Elau was coming to meet him with four hundred men. told, x 7. of the chapter, that he was a greatly " afraid and distressed,” being, in all probability, quite uncertain whether his brother was coming with a friendly or a hostile intention; or rather, having great reason to fufpect the latter to be the case. He rose up, we are told, long before day, and sent his wives, his children, and cattle, over the brook Jabbock : and as it follows, in the 24th verse, “ Jacob was left alone : and " there wrestled a man with him, until the break“ing of the day. And when he saw that he pre" vailed 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 break“eth : and he said, I will not let thee go, except

thou bless me.Some of the fathers, and also fome of the Jewish writers, fupposes that all this was done in prophetic vision, to represent to him the diffi culties that were yet before him, which, by faith and patience, he was to overcome.

But it is more reasonable to think, that this was in truth the appearance of an angel to him; and indeed most probably of the angel of the covenant; because, from the passage itself, it appears that he had “ prevailed with God." The same thing

we are assured of by the prophet Hofea, chap.
xii. 3. 4. “ He took his brother by the heel in
“the womb, and by his strength he had power
“ with God: yea, he had power over the angel,
“ and prevailed: he wept and made fupplication
“ unto him : hu found him in Beth-el, and there
“ he spake with us." From this passage also we
learn, that it was the same who met with him
at Beth-el. Some think, with a good deal of
probability, that this attack was made upon him
by way of punishment for the weakness of his
faith ; that though he had received the promise,
he should yet be under so great a terror at the
approach of his brother. In this indeed he was
an example of what happens to believers in eve.
ry age. Paft mercies are forgotten at the ap-
proach of future trials; therefore the fame God
who visited at Beth el, and promised to be with
him, now meets him in displeasure, and threatens
to destroy him: but by “ weeping and fupplica.
“ tion” he not only obtained his preservation,
but a further blessing. It is also the opinion of
many, that the wrestling or conflict was literal
and real for some time, and that Jacob perhaps
took it to be one of EV's attendants who had
come to furprise him in the night; but that at
last he perceived his mistake, when the angel,
by a flight touch of his thigh, shewed him, that,
if he had pleased, he might easily have destroyed
him. Then, as he had contended with his fup-
posed adversary, he now continues the struggle,
by insisting upon a blessing ; which he obtains,
in such terms as carry in them a commendation

both

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