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SERMON XVII.

JACOB'S LADDER.

GENESIS XXVIII. 12.

And 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.

In consequence of the anger excited in the breast of Esau, and his determination to take signal vengeance on Jacob for the manner in which he had supplanted him in his father's blessing, Jacob was obliged to quit his home, and this falling in with the desire of his father that, like himself, he should not marry one of the daughters of Canaan, but one of Abraham's family, he was sent on a journey into Haran where they dwelt, a distance of ive hundred miles, without attendance, or other accommodations; with nothing, as he

afterwards says of himself, but his staff. We find him here at the conclusion of his first day's solitary journey. Consider his situation. He has been driven from a plentiful home, and from kind parents, by circumstances arising out of his own misconduct; he has a long journey before him, and he knows not what of danger, pain, and trouble; he takes up his first night's lodging on the ground, with stones for his pillow. Surely we may suppose that he felt his present houseless and desolate situation ; surely we may hope that it brought his deceit to his remembrance, and that he laid his head on the hard stone, and his body on the bare ground, with a feeling sense of his transgression on his mind. Such is his situation. Yet here he finds that God has not forsaken him. In his sleep the divine assurance is given him that the promise shall be fulfilled to him ; his father's blessing is confirmed; and the covenant made with Abraham, and repeated to Isaac, is again renewed with him. Thus did he experience both in his present temporal sufferings, and in the divine promises and consolations, a proof of what was afterwards so beautifully set forth in the 89th Psalm as the dealings of God with his servant David, then typify. ing his own greater descendant, “If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.”

I. In the first place we will consider the circumstances of Jacob's dream, and the use which may

be made of it by ourselves. Thus we read. “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. And behold the Lord stood above it.” The dream was a representation to bim, and through him to us, of the constant providence of God, which is in great measure carried on by the ministration of his holy angels. These are in vast numbers, and of various ranks. Surrounding his throne they do his pleasure, and find their own in executing his commands. They are especially ministering spirits unto the heirs of salvation, while they have been not unfrequently employed in pouring out the vials of his wrath upon the guilty. But the Lord God is himself their creator, sovereign, and head; and so he appeared to Jacob in the dream, standing on the top of the ladder, as if he were sending them on his errands, and receiving their communications.

But the dream intimates also that there is a communication between heaven and earth, and a way of access from this lower world to the father of spirits. That way is opened through the propitiatory sacrifice of the blessed Jesus, the mediator between God and man.

He is a spiritual ladder for a renewal of the intercourse between heaven and earth. He is the way; through him we have access by the Spirit to the father; and “ the angels of God” may be seen by the eye of faith “ ascending and descending upon him.” Through him we are permitted

to make our requests known unto God, privileged to enjoy a communion with him, and blessed with communications of his love and favour. By faith in the sacrifice of Christ, by love and obedience to him, we ascend step by step, even as we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, till we come into the immediate presence of the eternal, infinite, and everblessed God in the heaven of heavens wherein he dwelleth. Is it a great thing that we are thus permitted, through the grace of the Saviour, to draw nigh unto God at present by faith, and prayer, and love, and hope, and eventually to ascend to the mount Zion above, where is an innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and God the judge of all, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant? Is it not also a great thing that God should condescend to come down to us, that the eternal Son has himself been made manifest in the flesh, and dwelt among us, and that the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, is given unto us, that he may abide with us for ever, and that

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