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rection ami the life; an J then the frequent observation of others in affliction, will have the noblest and most salutary influence in mortifying worldly asfections. You may also sometimes fee the triumph of saith in the joyful departure of believers, which is one of the most edifying and comfortable sights that any Christian can beho'd.
(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 doctrinal part of this subject, " the cross of Christ/* By this the believer will indeed crucify the world. Reason and experience may wound the world, so to speak; but the cross of Christ 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, sufficient to eradicate from our minds every the least inclination to what is provoking to him i Arc not the thoughts of what he purchased, sussicient 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 his conquest. Is not the Christian, when he is in full contemplation of this gieat object, faying, ' O most merciful 'Saviour, shall I any more idolize that world * which crucisied thee? shall I be afraid of their 'scorn who insulted thee? shall 1 refuse any
'part of hjs will, who, by the cross, has glori'fiedtb&."
Let us conclude by attempting to say, in saith, 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 sting! O grave, where is '' thy victory! The sting of death is sin, and "the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be ** to God, which giveth us the victory through "our Lord Jesus Christ."
Fervency and importunity in prayer.
Genesis xxxii. 26.
And he said, I will not let thee go* except thou blesi me.
MY brethren, real communion with God is a blessing of such inestimable value,. ihat it cannot be sought with too great earnestness, or maintained with too much care. If it is no fable, that God vouchsafes to his people, on. Jbme occasions, a fense of his gracious presence, and, as it were, visits them in love; with what fervour mould they deCue, with what diligence ihould they improve, so great a mercy! In a particular manner, when a goed man hath in view, either an important and dissicult duty, or a dangerous trial, it is his interest to implore, with. the greatest importunity, the presence and countenance of God, which only can effectually direct him in the one, and support him in the other. This, my brethren, ought to be our concern at present, as we have in view a very solemn 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 impossible to know.
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 Esau was coming to meet him with four hundred men. We are told, f 7. of the chapter, that he was "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 suspect the latter to be the case. H« 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, ex» "cept thou bless me."
Some of the sathers, and also some of theJewish writers, supposes that all this was done in prophetic vision, to represent to him the difsiculties that were yet before him, which, by saith 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 seme thing
we we are assured of by the prophet Hosea, 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 supplication "unto him: he 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 thkik, with a good deal of probability, that this attack was made upon him by way of punishment for the weakness of his saith; 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 every age. Past mercies are forgotten at the approach of future trials; therefore the same 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 supplica"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 Eiji's attendants who had come to surprise 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 supposed adversary, he now continues the struggle, by insisting upon a blessing; which he obtains, in such terms as carry in them a commendation