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of sin for a season; for he had respect unto the recompense of reward, and endured as seeing him who is invisible. *
It has been usual indeed for princes to be guided in some measure, in their councils and conduct, by the commotions of their subjects, though poor, and when there has been but little danger as to the result of their dissatisfaction; but such is the enmity of the human heart against the Lord and his anointed, that often, when nothing has been heard from the people of God but cries and groans, and not a possibility, apparent of their ever being injurious to the powers that be, those powers have endeavoured to crush them. This has been the secret of many of the persecutions that have taken place; and though not avowedly the case with that in Egypt, it may easily be supposed to have had much to do with it.
But the bush was not consumed,-so the children of Israel were not diminished by any of the arts and contrivances used against them; but, on the contrary, they increased the more. So the God of Israel declared of his church, that “no weapon that is formed against it shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against it in judgment it shall condemn.”+
JACOB'S LADDER. There are few greater proofs of the importance and necessity of trials and difficulties in the experience of the people of God, than the circumstance that they have been appointed for all, even the most eminent. Hence it is de• Heb. ii. 25—7.;
+ Isa. liv. 17.
clared that “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons."* Among all the servants of God, few have been more eminent than Jacob, and yet he was as remarkable for his trials as for many other things by which his life and character were distinguished. They were many and various, and arose from several sources. Indeed they were so numerous and common, that he considered them as characterizing all his history; and therefore, when asked by Pharaoh how old he was, he said, “Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.”
But if, in his afflictions, Jacob was like most other saints of the Most High, he resembled many of them also in another respect, namely, that he found the supports of religion, and experienced some of his greatest comforts and best assurances of the Divine favour in connection with them, which was the case in a remarkable manner in regard to his vision of the ladder.
The circumstances recorded in relation to this event took place upon his leaving his father's house. Never before was he placed in a more trying situation. Being the son of a rich man, he must have had servants at his * Heb. xii. 6—8.
+ Gen. xlvii. 9.
command, and was blessed with all the comforts of life. What was still more, he was the favourite of his mother, whose affection for him, as it had led to that subtle scheme which put him in possession of his brother's blessing, and now suggested the propriety of flight from his anger, would doubtless supply him with every indulgence which his soul could desire. Her heart was so bound up in him, that there was nothing that she possessed but was at his command. She could address to him the language of the father of the prodigal with great propriety, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine;" yet we find him here taking a journey of many hundred miles on foot, without a servant to attend him, or any preparation to enable him to pass the night in comfort, at a period when he was advanced to threescore years and ten, which, though the patriarchs lived much longer than men now do, was a time of life very ill-suited to the circumstances to which he resigned himself. After travelling a distance of about forty miles in one day, he became weary with his journey. The sun being set, the shadows of the evening lengthened, and the time having arrived for the wild beasts of the desert to come forth from their dens, he deemed it unsafe to proceed further, and therefore determined in this dreary place to court the midnight slumbers. It
appears that there was a city not far from the plain over which he was travelling, for it is expressly said of Bethel that it was called Luz at the first, * but for some reason not known to
Gen. xxviii. 19.
us, he was induced to repose where he was. Like the Disciples, when they were with Christ upon the Mount of Transfiguration, who feared when they entered into the cloud, it was impossible for Jacob not to feel the pressure of his circumstances; but, like them, what a surprise he met with. They heard the Almighty Father saying, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;" and the patriarch was favoured with a vision of the Almighty, for “he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven, and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.”.
What is taught us, then, by the vision of Jacob's Ladder? The Rabbis, and some of the Fathers, have found it a most fruitful source of allegory. They have made the angels and their position to man a variety of things. Some of the old typographers perceived here a type of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and many of the commentators discover a disposition to follow their example. Certainly, if we consider everything that might be mentioned as a likeness of one to the other, there is much which cannot escape' our notice. Even Fuller was of opinion that it referred to the glory of Gospel times. His words are, “We might have been at a loss in ascertaining the meaning of the ladder if the great medium of communion between heaven and earth had not almost expressly applied it to himself. Hereafter,' said Jesus to Nathaniel, 'ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending (that is, to heaven) and descending (that is, to earth) upon the Son of Man.' Our Lord's design appears to have been to foretell the glory of Gospel times, in which, through his mediation, heaven should, as it were, be opened, and a free intercourse be established between God, angels, and men. But it may be asked, What analogy could there be between this and that which was revealed to Jacob? I answer, We have seen that the Messiah was not only included in the promises to Abraham, but that he was made a principal part of them; and as these promises were now renewed to Jacob, though we had read nothing of his vision of the ladder, yet we should have known that they looked as far forward as to Him and to that dispensation in which all the families of the earth should be blessed' in him. As it is, we may conclude that what was seen in vision was of the same general import as what was heard in the promises which followed. It was giving the patriarch a glimpse of that glory which should be accomplished in his seed."*
Now, it is evident from the above quotation, that, in the opinion of this great man, it is upon the words of our Lord to Nathaniel that we must rest the conclusion that the vision of the ladder was prefigurative of the future glory of the Gospel Dispensation. He believed that our Lord applied the ladder almost expressly to himself; but how far his idea was correct or not, many we consider will feel disposed to question. Indeed, even if it be admitted that he had the vision in his mind at the time he spoke, still it may be doubted whether he intended to do anything more than make an allusion to it, or to use it as he often did other things, merely for * Fuller's Works on Gen. xxviii. 12.