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me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant : for with my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now I am become two bands. Deliver, me I pray thee, from the hand of my brother from the hand of Esau : for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. . And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make
thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be num
bered for multitude, “And Jacob lodged there that same night, and took of that which came to his hand, a present for Esau his brother; two hundred she-goats, and twenty he-goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams. . . . Thirthy milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foles. . . And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves ; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove. And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee? Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob's, it is a present sent unto my lord Esau; and behold also he is behind us, *And so commanded he the second and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall you speak unto Esau when you find him. And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is *, * - behind
behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me. So went the present over before him ; and himself lodged that night in the company. And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two women servants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok. - -
And he took thcm, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
King David, in one of his Psalms, writes *, that “The Angel of the Lok D encampeth about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.” The portion of Scripture contained in the Section before us, exemplifies this truth.
The Angel of rhe Lokp, who (as we shall read in the course of this history) is also styled the Lo R D of Hosts, who had caused a number of celestial beings to watch around the Heir of the fromiser, enabled his eyes to behold them. At first Jacob knew not that these angels were appointed to guard him and his family; and perhaps it was requisite that before this circumstance was made known to him, Jacob should implore help from the Lord.
The remembrance of the deceptions he had practised, in order to secure the birth-right, and of Esau’s threat which had driven him into a strange land, awakened in Jacob's mind the most distressing fears. Conscious of his demerits, he could not claim the accomplishment of the Divine promise, I will be with thee in all places whereroever thou goest, till he had humbled himself to
* Psalm xxxiv. 4.
Esau, and done all in his power to appease him ; with this view he sent the messengers to Seir, to acquaint Esau with his approach, and with the means whereby he had acquired the riches which he brought with him. The report of these messengers (as we find) rather increased than lessened Jacob’s fears 1 for he knew that his brother was to live by his sword ; and should it be lifted up against him and his family, he could make no defence. For this reason we may suppose Jacob thought it prudent to approach as an humble suppliant for Esau's favour. The precaution which Jacob used in dividing his people, &c. into two bands, was a very wise one ; but after all, he could not be certain that his well-concerted measures would succeed, yet nothing else could his own heart devise ; he had therefore recourse to GoD. The manner of Jacob's address to the Deity was perfectly consistent with that faith which was reckoned to the Patriarchs for righteousness. It was expressive of the utmost humility ; Jacob pleaded no merits; all his hope and expectation of favour were founded upon the Divine fromises, and the mercies which God of his own free grace had already granted him. Jacob did not, however, presumptuously throw him. self upon Providence ; he still used human means ; trusting for a happy event in the goodness of the Lord, who, by a secret influence on his mind, calmed his fears, so that he ventured to send his family on before him. ... We have already remarked *, that there is something delightful in the expectation of finding in Hea. ven a set of benevolent friends, ready to welcome us to those blessed abodes. It is an additional comfort to think, that angels are frequently the invisible com
* See Section xxiii. panions
Panions of men on earth. Their intercourse with us is of a nature which we cannot understand, because it is spiritual, and therefore it would be to no purpose to endeavour to discover it. But the Scripture teaches us, that they are God's ministers, sent forth to guard all who are heirs of the firomiser, from their spiritual enermies * ; and the idea that such pure intelligences are spectators of our conduct, ought to be an additional motive to circumspection. - - In Jacob's distress at the thoughts of meeting Esau, we see the flower of conscience ; even a Divine promise could not silence his apprehensions, when he reflected on the offences he had committed : How cautious then should every person be to avoid unworthy actions, since they have a natural tendency to abate our confidence in God! But should we, unfortunately for ourselves, thus wound our peace of mind ; the only remedy that can be sought with success, is, the mercy of God. The LoRD alone can supply us with the balm of consolation. And what human being has not at one time or other experienced the want of it 2 Who that has supplicated like Jacob, has been denied this heavenly boon : Let us then on such unhappy occasions earnestly implore our God and Saviour to deliver us, in his infinite goodness, from the consequences of our own misconduct; using at the same time every means in our power for conciliating the favour of those we have offended.
SECTION XL. ...
From Genetis, Chaft. xxxii.
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. o And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob but Israel; for as a prince hast thou power with Go D and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name : and he said, wherefore is it, that thou dost ask after my name 2 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 which 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.
ANNOTATIONS ano REFLECTIONS.
The passage of Scripture contained in this Section is very obscure, and cannot be fully explained. It may be conjectured, that Jacob having conducted his family in safety over the brook Jabbok, returned to the place where he had beheld the angelic host, in order to pass a little time in private devotion at that sacred spot, and entreat the Lo R D to grant him some evident blessing to support his mind under the coeflicts which disturbed it. It is most likely that the wrestling was a visionary