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JUNE 6.-" And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”—Gen. xxxii. 24.

Jacob was now returning with a large family and much abundance from Haran, and the house of his infamous uncle Laban. Thither he had fled from the face of his brother Esau, till his fury should be abated. But his resentment seems not to have yielded to time; for Jacob is informed of his approach, and four hundred men with him, and no doubt with murderous design. Here was an embarrassment! But God had said to him, “Return;" and he had also said, “I will surely do thee good”—This was his encouragement. But what was his conduct? It equally expressed prudence and piety. He sends forward a present, with a soft answer, that turneth away wrath; and then he has recourse to prayer. For except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. When we have arranged our plans, and secured our means, and done all that we can do, we must cast our care upon him that careth for us, and say, “O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.” Jacob found prayer not only his duty, but his privilege. How pitiable are those in trouble who cannot say from experience, “It is good for me to draw near to God.” In the perplexities, dangers, distresses of life; in the loss of relations, the failure of friends, the insufficiency of creature-helpers; how relieving to the burdened spirit is it to say, “ Therefore will I look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation, my God will hear me."

-Imagine Jacob's situation. He was left alone. His family had been sent forward. It was now past midnight. No noise was heard. Perhaps no star was seen. He was kneeling on the ground in prayer, with his eyes closed, or raised towards heaven-when he felt the fingers of some one, seizing and grappling him—and he started up and closed with his antagonist-and endeavoured to maintain his standing against him— There wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. Wrestling is a trying and close combat, in which we can only engage personally, hand to hand; it allows not of seconds and helpers ; and the aim of each is to throw the other upon the ground. Jacob's opponent came as his friend; but how could Jacob think so at first, when instead of being lulled to sleep, he was grasped and pulled to and fro with violence ? Though mercy brings him, the Lord's coming to his people is often alarming in appearance and apprehension. He works by unlikely means, and in a way the most strange. He impoverishes in order to enrich ; wounds us in order to heal ; by legal despair he brings us into the hope of the gospel ; and by death leads us to life eternal. Let us welcome himn in whatever manner he may appear. Job could say, "He hath taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces"-But he could say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him."

The affair. was not a vision, but a real transaction. We may however make two inquiries. First; who was this mysterious personage that strove with Jacob? Hosea calls him “ the angel ;" he is here called "a man”-yet the prophet says, Jacob “had power with God:” and Jacob himself says, "I have seen God face to face.” Vol. I.


What can we do here, but have recourse to "the angel of the core. nant ?" to him of whom Paul speaks, when he says, “Being in the form of God, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:" to him of whom John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” “His goings forth were of old, from everlasting.” “He rejoiced in the habitable parts of the earth, and his delights were with the sons of men.". Thus he often assumed a human shape, as an emblem and earnest of his real incarnation in the fulness of time. Secondly; what was the nature of this wrestling? It was partly corporeal, as is undeniable from the injury he received in his thigh; and partly spiritual, as an inspired expositor tells us that “he wept and made supplication into the angel.". These are the severest trials in which God at once exercises both the body and the mind. Yet it is no unusual thing for sickness and straits in circumstances to blend with internal conflicts-“Without,” says Paul, “are fightings, and within are fears :" and, says David, “Heal

me, for my bones are vexed; my soul is also sore vexed : but thou, ó Lord, how long."

It is from this exercise of Jacob's, that prayer has been so frequently called wrestling with God.' Formalists know nothing of the force of the image: but they know the meaning of it, who feel their guilt, and are pressed down by a sense of their unworthiness and imperfections; who are in earnest as to their object; and whose cry is nothing less than“ Lord, save, I perish.”.

'We cannot determine how long the contest had lasted, but it seems to have been several hours. During all this time, though Jacob stood his ground he got no advantage until the breaking of the day

- Then the scene changed, and relief was obtained. The Lorú often tries the patience of his people ; he delays their desires, and under the suspension, they sometimes are ready to say, Why should I wait for him any longer ? Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, but when it cometh it is a tree of life, and come it will in God's own time, and will not tarry a moment beyond it. endure for a night; but joy cometh in the morning." What applies to any particular dispensation will apply to life itself— What is it but wrestling until the breaking of the day? But the night is far spent, and the day is at hand.

“Weeping may

JUNE 7.—" 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."--Gen. xxxii. 25, 26.

It is wonderful that Jacob was able to maintain the contest as he did. Never was there such an unequal match. The wrestling was between a poor worm and the Lord of all. What would have been the consequence, if things had taken their natural course, but Jacob's overthrow? How then did he stand ? Not from his own sufficiency, but from the condescension and kindness of his opponent, who instead of striving against him with his great power, put strength in him, and sustained him in the encounter.

Yet the Lord would remind him of his weakness. He therefore touched and disjointed the hollow of his thigh. This was to intimate that if he should gain the victory, he was not, as he otherwise might have done, to ascribe it to himself. Good men in their attainments and successes are in danger of self-elation; and it is necessary to keep them from their purpose, and to hide pride from them. Paul after his revelations had a thorn in the flesh, lest he should be exalted above measure. All our honours and comforts must have some alloy. In sailing the ballast is as necessary as the sails, and the one must be in proportion to the other.

But does not Jacob yield now? No; he keeps on wrestling, though in pain, and even lamed, and therefore obliged to grasp the closer and firmer to keep him from falling. So we are to cleave to the Lord with purpose of heart, and to pray and not faint. Whatever discouragements we meet with, we are not in our wrestling to give up; and when we cannot pray as we would, we must pray as we can, and not discontinue the exercise because of infirmity and imperfections.

“Let me go,” says the angel. Yet could not he who by a touch only had disjointed Jacob's thigh, have easily disengaged himself from his hold ? And does he ask for permission to withdraw? He gives intimation of his departure, to excite the more earnest supplication for his continuance. When he was with the two disciples at Emmaus, he made as though he would have gone further : he designed to enter with them-but not without pressing; and they constrained him, saying, abide with us—and he went in to tarry with them. So much do they love him, and so necessary is he to his people, that a bint of going is enough to throw them into alarm, and induce them to cry, "Čast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me.” But the motion is designed to show the power of prayer. “The king is held in the galleries.” “I held him, and would not let him go." “ The violent take it by force.” The might of earth and hell cannot restrain God, but prayer can. Two blind men, begging by the way-side, hearing that he was passing by, cried," Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on us."

The multitude deemed them offensive interrupters, and ordered them to hold their peace. But Jesus stood still, and commanded them to be brought—The sun in nature once stood_still

, to enable Joshua to finish his victory: and now a much nobler Being cannot take another step till he has paused, and heard, and relieved the tale of distress. When God, provoked by the idolatry of the Jews at Horeb, threatened to destroy them, Moses interposed, and held back his arm; and Omnipotence itself said, "Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.” Who would not value prayer! What an efficiency does it exert! With God all things are possibleand prayer has power with God !

But the reason seems as strange as the request–Let me go," for the day breaketh.” What are the distinctions of time to him Is it not the same to the Lord whether he is with his people by night or by day? “Darkness and light are both alike to him." First, the reason may respect the angel's unwillingness that any should be spectators of the scene. And so it tells us to avoid religious notice; and not, like the Pharisees, pray to be seen of men-"The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.” When we enter our closet we are not to leave it open, but shut to the door. But, secondly, the reason rather refers to Jacob and his circumstances-—"The morning comes, and we must separate for thy sake-Thou must pursue thy journey; thy cattle, servants, and family, will require ihy presence and aid." Religion is not to call us off from our relative duties, or even secular business. Every thing is beautiful in its season. We must sometimes exercise even spiritual self-denial. The privileges of the Sabbath must give place to the trials of the week. It would be more pleasing to continue an hour longer in retirement, reading the Scripture, with meditation and prayer ; but the calls of the household, and the claims of our callings, bid us break off-And we must "stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."

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JUNE 8.-"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.”—Gen. xxxii. 26, 27.

Jacob now, if not before, began to know who his antagonist was; and is therefore unwilling to separate without a blessing. He looks for a blessing from one that had opposed him, struggled with him, and disjointed his thigh. So must we turn to him that smiteth" us, and from the very hand that wounds, seek all our relief and deliverance. “Come,” says the Church, "and let us return unto the Lord : for he hath torn, and he will heal us, he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.” Íhe blessing of the Lord maketh rich. It can do all things for us. Creatures can only wish us a blessing, but he commands and imparts it: and when he blesses none can reverse it.

Jacob uses no ceremony, but in reply to the demand,“ Let me go," abruptly says, “I will not-except thou bless me.” Was this a fit answer for a servant to his Lord and Master ? When we have a promise which gives us a hold of him, we are to put him in remembrance, to plead with him, and to refuse to take any denial. There is nothing more pleasing to him than this holy violence : he loves to see us while trusting in his faithful Word, disregarding the discouragements of his Providence. The woman of Canaan was sorely tried, first by his silence, then by his seeming exclusion and contempt of her—but she persevered in ber application, and was more than successful. “O woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” And when God had threatened not to go with the people, was he offended with Moses, who said, I will not stir a step further without thy presence ? No; but he yielded, and said, "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” Prayer is nothing without earnestness and resolution. We ask and have not, because we ask amiss; we pour forth words, but leave the heart behind. How can we expect that God should regard supplications with which we are unaffected ourselves? “If,” says Bishop Hopkins," the arrow of prayer is to enter heaven, we must draw it from a soul full bent." This is what Paul means hy "praying with all prayer.” He, the very same Being, who here taught Jacob importunity in prayer, teaches us also, at this moment, the value and necessity of it. Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine, in his journey, is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” “ And he spake a parable unto there to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man: yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them ?"“Never man spake like this man."

Jacob specifies nothing in particular, but only insists upon a blessing: His present condition however would serve to explain his immediate wish. And therefore, with a view to this, the Lord said unto him, “What is thy name ?" He could not ask to gain information; but upon the same principle that we are required to confess our sins, and to spread our wants before him in prayer; and which is not to inform a Being who is perfectly wise, but that we may be affected with our condition, and be prepared for the display of his mercy. It is we who are changed by prayer, not he: the land is not drawn to the boat, but the boat to the land-the result of the contact is the same. The Lord well knew Jacob's name, but he would know it from himself; and therefore he said, “ Jacob”—“The same to whom thou saidst at Beth-el, when fleeing from the face of my brother, I will keep thee in all places whither thou goest : the same to whom thou saidst, when leaving my uncle Laban, Return to thy kindred, and I will surely do thee good.” We have the same advantage in the question when we go to his mercy's door, and he asks who we are. "Lord, thou canst not be ignorant of me. I am that swearer, that Sabbath-breaker, that despiser of all that was good, whose feet thy goodness turned into the path of peace, and whose lips it taught to show forth thy praise. I am that backslider thy mercy reclaimed. I am that sufferer who called upon thee in the day of trouble, and was delivered—I have tried thee too much ; and thou hast befriended me too often, not to be acquainted with all I am"

"Dost thou ask me, who I am ?
Ah, my Lord, thou know'st my name!
Yet the question gives a plea,
And supports my suit with Thee.
"Thou did'st once a wretch behold,
In rebellion blindly bold,
Scorn thy grace, thy power defy;
That poor rebel, Lord, was I.
Once a sinner, near despair,
Sought thy mercy-seat by prayer;

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