Genesis 28:10
Meanwhile Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran.
Sermons
A Ladder Between Heaven and EarthT. Champness.Genesis 28:10-15
A Ladder of EscapeD. Rowlands, B. A.Genesis 28:10-15
A Man AsleepC. S. Robinson, D. D.Genesis 28:10-15
A Turn in the TideD. G. Watt, M. A.Genesis 28:10-15
Angelic MinistriesBishop Woodford.Genesis 28:10-15
Ascending and Descending AngelsA. S. Nickerson.Genesis 28:10-15
BethelT. S. Dickson.Genesis 28:10-15
Bethel: a Picture and its LessonC. S. Robinson, D. D.Genesis 28:10-15
Bethel; Or, the True Vision of LifeHomilistGenesis 28:10-15
Christ Typified by Jacob's LadderJ. Burns, D. D.Genesis 28:10-15
Divine ProvidenceW. L. Watkinson.Genesis 28:10-15
Intercourse Between Earth and HeavenR. Winterbotham, M. A.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob At BethelD. O. Mears, D. D.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob At BethelG. R. Leavitt.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob At BethelW. J. Evans.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob At BethelLyman Abbott, D. D.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob At BethelD. C. Hughes, M. A.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob At BethelJ. Hambleton, M. A.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob's ConversionF. W. Robertson, M. A.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob's DreamH. W. Beecher.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob's DreamHomilistGenesis 28:10-15
Jacob's Dream: the Solution of a MysteryD. Rowlands, B. A.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob's LadderR. Fuller.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob's Night At BethelD. March, D. D.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob's VisionT. H. Leale.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob's VisionA. D. Davidson.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob's VisionR. Thomas, M. A.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob's VisionJ. Burns, D. D.Genesis 28:10-15
Life as a LadderJ. M. Miller, D. D.Genesis 28:10-15
Man's Spiritual CapacityHomilistGenesis 28:10-15
Right PrinciplesH. W. BeecherGenesis 28:10-15
The Angel-LadderF. B. Meyer, B. A.Genesis 28:10-15
The Christ LadderC. Nose.Genesis 28:10-15
The Comfortable VisionDean GoulburnGenesis 28:10-15
The Dream of JacobJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 28:10-15
The DreamerA. F. Joscelyne, B. A.Genesis 28:10-15
The God of BethelW. Jay.Genesis 28:10-15
The Heavenly Pathway and the Earthly HeartA. Maclaren, D. D.Genesis 28:10-15
The Incarnation a Helpful FactM. Doris, D. D.Genesis 28:10-15
The Ladder of DoctrineC. S. Robinson, D. D.Genesis 28:10-15
The Ladder of LifeC. S. Robinson, D. D.Genesis 28:10-15
The Nearness of God to MenD. Rhys Jenkins.Genesis 28:10-15
The Solitary One and His VisitationBenson Bailey.Genesis 28:10-15
The Spirit WorldHomilistGenesis 28:10-15
The VisionE. Craig.Genesis 28:10-15
The Vision At BethelF. D. Maurice, M. A.Genesis 28:10-15
The Vision in the WildernessW. S. Smith, B. D.Genesis 28:10-15
The Vision of GodC. S. Robinson, D. D.Genesis 28:10-15
What Jacob Saw in SleepS. A. Tipple.Genesis 28:10-15
Jacob's DreamR.A. Redford Genesis 28:10-22
Where revelations had been vouchsafed it was supposed that they would be repeated. The stony pillow on which the weary head rested may be changed by the visitation of Divine grace into the meeting-place of heaven and earth. The morning beams breaking in upon the shadowy refuge of the night are transfigured into a dream of covenant blessing. The ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reached to heaven. Angels of God on the way of mediation, ascending, descending, carrying up the wants and services of the man of God, bringing clown the messages of consolation, the vouchsafements of help and deliverance. "Behold, the Lord stood above it," as the source of all the blessing, standing ready to work for his chosen. This is the first direct communication of Jehovah to Jacob, the first in a long line of revelations of which he was the recipient. It is a renewal of the covenant made to his fathers, it is a republication of the promises. But we require to hear the Lord say to us, "I am with thee, I will not leave thee," especially when we are already on the journey of faith, when we are obeying the commandment of God, and of the father and mother speaking in his name. Such a place as Jacob found may be made known to us -

I. IN PROVIDENTIAL INTERPOSITIONS. We journey on through the wilderness and light upon a certain place where we think we are only among stony facts, where we can find but a harsh welcome; but the Lord is in the place, though we know it not till he reveals himself. Then we cry with trembling gratitude, This is the house of God, &c.

II. IN SEASONS or RELIGIOUS OPPORTUNITY. The ordinary and customary is lifted up by special gift of the Spirit' 'into' the opened heaven, the visiting, angels, the vision of the throne of God. "The house of God, the gate of heaven. Such may be the awaking of our soul in the sanctuary of our own private devotions or of our public worship.

III. Jacob is A TYPE OF THE LORD'S PEOPLE REGARDED AS A WHOLE. The Church has often laid itself down upon the stones and slept with weariness in its passage through the desert, and the Lord has revealed the ladder of his covenant, connecting together that very place and time of hardship with the throne of grace and. glory, and the ascending and descending angels.

IV. Jesus himself employed this dream of the patriarch as A TYPICAL PROPHECY OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD. "Heaven open, and the angels of God Ascending and descending upon the Son of man," the true Jacob, the Prince prevailing with God and with men (John 1:51). The cross is the ladder of mediation. It was set up on the earth. It was not of earthly origin as a means of atonement, but its foot was on the earth as it came forth out of the method and course of earthly history in connection with Divine counsels. Its top reached to heaven, for it was a Divine Mediator whose sacrifice was offered upon it. Angels of God ascended and descended upon the ladder, for only through the atoning merit of Christ is angelic ministration maintained. It is for them "who shall be heirs of salvation." At the summit of the cross, representing the whole mediatorial work of Christ, is the Lord standing, speaking his word of covenant, and stretching forth his right hand on behalf of his people. Resting at the foot of the cross we hear the voice of a faithful Guide, saying, "I will not leave thee," &c. In every place one who is conscious of surrounding covenant mercy can say, "This is none other but the house of God," &c. - R.







And he dreamed, and behold, a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven.
I. THE WANDERER. It had been a desolate day, and there was only desolation at night. In his weariness he slept, and as he slept, he dreamed. If dreams reflect the thoughts of the day, a new life must have begun within him. It was not Esau, or the plotting mother, or the aged father, upon whom he looked. The old tent was not over him, nor did he long for the pillows of home. It was a new experience, and the story of his vision has been told all down the centuries for more than three and a half thousand years. What does it mean?

II. THE MEETING-PLACE. It was upon the barren mountainside. Tier on tier of rocks reaching to the mountain-summit were the stairs of nature's cathedral. The winds of the mountains roused him not. The audience of that night was asleep. If the beasts came forth from their retreats, they did not disturb him. His own sin had driven him into solitude. Voice of friend or foe, there was none. He was alone; but God was there even when he knew it not. What meetings there have been alone with God I What night-scenes of grandeur and awe! Amid sufferings from sin, in deepest trials and in roughest places, many a soul has exclaimed with the waking Jacob, "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

III. THE VISION AND THE DIVINE COVENANT. Two thoughts are suggested at the outset by this vision: the reaching up of earth to heaven, and the reaching down of heaven to earth.

IV. THE PILLAR OF REMEMBRANCE. Gratitude should be the very first fruit of religion. What less has God reason to expect? What else can man prefer to give?

(D. O. Mears, D. D.)

I. THE DREAMER.

1. A lonely faith.

2. An exile from home.

3. A fugitive from his brother.

II. THE DREAM.

1. The ladder. Heaven not closed to man.

2. Angels of God ascending and descending. Ministry.

3. God at the summit of the ladder.

III. THE IMPRESSION OF HIS DREAM.

1. An overpowering sense of the presence of God.

2. His sin rose before him.

(G. R. Leavitt.)

I. IT WAS VOUCHSAFED TO HIM IN A TIME OF INWARD AND OUTWARD TROUBLE.

II. IT SATISFIED ALL HIS SPIRITUAL NECESSITIES.

1. It assured him that heaven and earth were not separated by an impassable gulf.

2. It assured him that there was a way of reconciliation between God and man.

3. It assured him that the love of God was above all the darkness of human sin and evil.

4. It imparted to him the blessings of a revelation from God.

III. IT REVEALED THE AWFUL SOLEMNITY OF HUMAN LIFE,

IV. IT RESULTED IN JACOB'S CONVERSION,

1. He erected a memorial of the event.

2. He resolved to make God supreme in all his thoughts and actions.

(T. H. Leale.)

I. CONSIDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES under which the vision was granted.

II. LOOK AT THE NATURE of the vision.

1. The angels are interested in the well-being of God's people.

2. Heaven is a place of activity.

3. There is a way of communication open between heaven and earth. This way represents the mediation of Christ.

III. LOOK AT THE PROMISES which on this occasion were made to Jacob.

1. God promised to be with Jacob.

2. God promised His protection and guidance to Jacob.

3. God promised him final deliverance from all trouble.

(A. D. Davidson.)

I. A way set up between earth and heaven, making a visible connection between the ground on which he slept and the sky.

II. The free circulation along that way of great powers and ministering influences.

III. God, the supreme directing and inspiring force, eminent over all. Lessons:

1. Every man's ladder should stand upon the ground. No man can be a Christian by separating himself from his kind.

2. Along every man's ladder should be seen God's angels.

3. High above all a man's plans and resolves, there must beta living trust in God.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. The vision at Bethel was the first step in Jacob's Divine education — the assurance which raised him to the feelings and dignity of a man. He knew that though he was to be chief of no hunting tribe, there might yet come forth from him a blessing to the whole earth.

II. Jacob's vision came to him in a dream. But that which had been revealed was a permanent reality, a fact to accompany him through all his after-existence. Now the great question we have to ask ourselves is, "Was this a fact for Jacob the Mesopotamian shepherd, and is it a phantasm for all ages to come? Or was it a truth which Jacob was to learn just as he was to learn the truth of birth, the truth of marriage, the truth of death, that it might be declared to his seed after him; and that they might be acquainted with it as he was, only in a fuller and deeper sense?" If we take the Bible for our guide we must accept the latter conclusion, and not the former. The Son of Man is the ladder between earth and heaven, between the Father above and His children on earth.

(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)

Sleeping to see. One may be too wide-awake to see. There are things which are hidden from us until we lie down to sleep. Only then do the heavens open and the angels of God disclose themselves.

I. It does not follow that God is not, because we cannot discern Him. Little do we dream of the veiled wonders and splendours amid which we move. To Jacob's mental fret and confusion, the wilderness where God brooded was a wilderness and nothing more. But in sleep he grew tranquil and still; he lost himself — the flurried, heated, uneasy self that he had brought with him from Beer-sheba; and while he slept the hitherto unperceived Eternal came out softly, largely, above and around him. We learn from this the secret of the Lord's nearness.

II. No man is ever completely awake; something in him always sleeps. There is a sense in which it may be said with truth that were we less wakeful, more of God and spiritual realities might be unveiled to us. We are always doing — too much so for finest being; are always striving — too much so for highest attaining. Our religion consists too much in solicitude to get; it is continually " The Lord, the Father of mercies," rather than "The Lord, the Father of glory." We require to sleep from ourselves before the heavens can open upon us freely and richly flow around us.

(S. A. Tipple.)

I. JESUS, THE LADDER, CONNECTS EARTH WITH HEAVEN.

II. THIS LADDER COMES TO SINNERS.

III. GOD IS AT THE TOP, SPEARING KIND WORDS DOWN THE LADDER.

IV. ADVICE TO CLIMBERS:

1. Be sure to get the right ladder; there are plenty of shams.

2. Take firm hold; you will want both hands.

3. Don't look down, or you will be giddy.

4. Don't come down to fetch any one else up. If your friends will not follow you, leave them behind.

(T. Champness.)

I. The ancient heathens told in their fables how the gods had all left the earth one by one; how one lingered in pity, loath to desert the once happy world; how even that one at last departed. Jacob's dream showed something better, truer than this; it showed him God above him, God's angels all about him.

II. The intercourse between God and man has been enlarged and made perpetual in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son.

III. When Jacob awoke he consecrated a pillar, and vowed to build a sanctuary there and give tithes. We cannot altogether commend the spirit in which he made his vow. He tried to make a good bargain with the Almighty; yet God accepted him. The place was holy to him, because he knew that God was there.

(R. Winterbotham, M. A.)

I. GOD IS NEAR MEN WHEN THEY LITTLE THINK IT. "He is near —

1. When we are not aware of it.

2. When sin is fresh upon us.

3. When we are in urgent need of Him.

II. GOD IS NEAR MEN TO ENGAGE IN THEIR RELIGIOUS TRAINING.

1. God assured Jacob of His abiding presence with him.

2. Jacob was taught to recognize God in all things.

3. He was taught to feel his entire dependence upon God throughout the journey of life.

III. GOD IS ALWAYS NEAR MEN TO EFFECT THEIR COMPLETE SALVATION. Intercourse has been established between earth and heaven; the whole process of man's salvation is under the superintendence of God.

(D. Rhys Jenkins.)

I. JACOB'S IMPRESSIONS. First time of leaving his father's home. When night came on, and there was no tent to repose under, and no pillow but a stone on which to lay his weary head, then a feeling of loneliness came over him, then tender thoughts awoke. He felt remorse, tears came unbidden. He felt, "I shall never be in my father's house the boy I was." In all this observe —

1. A solemn conviction stealing over Jacob of what life is, a struggle which each man must make in self-dependence.

2. But beside this conviction of what life is, Jacob was impressed in another way at this time. God made a direct communication to his soul. "He lay down to sleep, and he dreamed." We know what dreams are. They are strange combinations of our waking thoughts in fanciful forms, and we may trace in Jacob's previous journey the groundwork of his dream. He looked up all day to heaven as he trudged along, the glorious expanse of an Oriental sky was around him, a quivering trembling mass of blue; but he was alone, and, when the stars came out, melancholy sensations were his, such as youth frequently feels in autumn time. Deep questionings beset him. Time he felt was fleeting. Eternity, what was it? Life, what a mystery! And all this took form in his dream. Thus far all was natural; the supernatural in this dream was the manner in which God impressed it on his heart. Similar dreams we have often had; but the remembrance of them has faded away. Conversion is the impression made by circumstances, and that impression lasting for life; it is God the Spirit's work upon the soul.

3. Jacob felt reconciliation with God. There is a distance between man and God. It is seen in the restlessness of men, in the estrangement which they feel from Him. Well, Jacob felt all this. He had sinned, overreached his brother, deceived his father. Self-convicted he walked all day long; the sky as brass; a solemn silence around him; no opening in the heaven; no sign nor voice from God; his own heart shut up by the sense of sin, unable to rise. Then came the dream in which he felt reconciliation with God. Do not mind the form but the substance. It contains three things:

(1)The ladder signifying heaven and earth joined, the gulf bridged over.

(2)The angels signifying the communication which exists between earth and heaven.

(3)The voice which told him of God's paternal care.

(4)The last impression made on Jacob was that of the awfulness of life.

II. THE RESOLUTIONS WHICH HE MADE.

1. The first of these was a resolution to set up a memorial of the impressions just made upon him. He erected a few stones, and called them Bethel. They were a fixed point to remind him of the past.

2. Jacob determined from this time to take the Lord for his God. He would worship from henceforth not the sun, or the moon, not honour, pleasure, business, but God. With respect to this determination, observe first" that it was done with a kind of selfish feeling; there was a sort of stipulation, that if God would be with him to protect and provide for him, that then he would take Him for his God (ver. 20, 21). And this is too much the way with us; there is mostly a selfishness in our first turning to God. A kind of bargain is struck. If religion makes me happy then I will be religious. God accepted this bargain in Jacob's case; He enriched him with cattle and goods in the land whither he went (Genesis 31:18): "for godliness has the promise of the life that now is." Disinterested religion comes later on. Observe, secondly, what taking God for our God implies. It is not the mere repetition of so many words; for as our Lord has said, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of God." To have God for our God is not to prostrate the knee but the heart in adoration before Him. God is truth: to persist in truth at a loss to ourselves, that is to have God for our God. God is purity: resolve to shut up evil books, turn a countenance of offended purity to the insult of licentious conversation; banish thoughts that conjure up wicked imaginations; then you have God for your God. God is love: you are offended; and the world says, resent; God says, forgive. Can you forgive? Can you love your enemy, or one whose creed is different from your own? That is to have God for your God.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

I. CONSIDER THE VISION AND ITS ACCOMPANYING PROMISE. We are to conceive of the form of the vision as a broad stair or sloping ascent, rather than a ladder, reaching right from the sleeper's side to the far-off heaven, its pathway peopled with messengers, and its summit touching the place where a glory shone that paled even the lustrous constellations of that pure sky. Jacob had thought himself alone; the vision peoples the wilderness. He had felt himself defenceless; the vision musters armies for his safety. He had been grovelling on earth, with no thoughts beyond its fleeting goods; the vision lifts his eyes from the low level on which they had been gazing. He had been conscious of but little connection with heaven; the vision shows him a path from his very side right into its depths. He had probably thought that he was leaving the presence of his father's God when he left his father's tent; the vision burns into his astonished heart the consciousness of God as there, in the solitude and the night. The Divine promise is the best commentary on the meaning of the vision. The familiar ancestral promise is repeated to him, and the blessing and the birthright thus confirmed. In addition, special assurances, the translation of the vision into word and adapted to his then wants, are given — God's presence in his wanderings, his protection, Jacob's return to the land, and the promise of God's persistent presence, working through all paradoxes of providence, and sins of his servant, and incapable of staying its operations, or satisfying God's heart, or vindicating his faithfulness, at any point short of complete accomplishment of his plighted word. Jacob's vision was meant to teach him, and is meant to teach us, the nearness of God, and the swift directness of communication, whereby His help comes to us and our desires rise to Him. These and their kindred truths were to be to him, and should be to us, the parents of much nobleness. Here is the secret of elevation of aim and thought above the mean things of sense. It is the secret of purity too. It is also the secret of peace.

II. NOTICE THE IMPERFECT RECEPTION dream indicates a very low level both of religious knowledge and feeling. Nor is there any reason for taking the words in any but their most natural sense; for it is a mistake to ascribe to him the knowledge of God due to later revelation, or, at this stage of his life, any depth of religious emotion. He is alarmed at the thought that God is near. Probably he had been accustomed to think of God's presence as in some special way associated with his father's encampment, and had not risen to the belief of His omnipresence. There seems no joyous leaping up of his heart at the thought that God is here. Dread, not unmingled with the superstitious fear that he had profaned a holy place by laying himself down in it, is his prevailing feeling, and he pleads ignorance as the excuse for his sacrilege. He does not draw the conclusion from the vision that all the earth is hallowed by a near God, but only that he has unwittingly stumbled on His house; and he does not learn that from every place there is an open door for the loving heart into the calm depths where God is throned, but only that here he stands at the gate of heaven. So he misses the very inner purpose of the vision, and rather shrinks from it than welcomes it. Was that spasm of fear all that passed through his mind that night? Did he sleep again when the glory died out of the heaven? So the story would appear to suggest. But, in any ease, we see here the effect of the sudden blitzing in upon a heart not yet familiar with the Divine Friend, of the conviction that He is really near. Gracious as God's promise was, it did not dissipate the creeping awe at His presence. It is an eloquent testimony of man's consciousness of sin, that whensoever a present God becomes a reality to a man, he trembles. "This place" would not be "dreadful," but blessed, if it were not for the sense of discord between God and me.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH THIS REVELATION WAS MADE TO HIM.

1. Jacob was lonely.

2. Jacob was standing on the threshold of independence.

3. Jacob was also in fear.

II. THE ELEMENTS OF WHICH THIS REVELATION CONSISTED.

1. The ladder.

2. The angels.

3. The voice of God.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

I. THE PICTURE.

1. A solitary man.

2. A guilty man. Sin pierced his hand more than his staff did.

3. An injured man. "A child may have more of his mother than her blessing."

4. A fugitive man. "He had, like a maltreated animal, the fear of man habitually before his eyes." He cringes one moment, and dodges the next; deprecating the blow he invites, expects, and gets.

5. He is a weary man. There he lies. Now look at him. Mark these — the nameless spot, the shelterless couch, the comfortless pillow, the restless slumber.

II. THE LESSON.

1. In this world wicked success is real failure. No security after sin save in repenting of it.

2. In this world God pays in kind, but blesses sovereignly. That is to say, retribution is often like crime, but grace is a surprise.

3. Turning over a new leaf does not always show a fresh page. It does no good to take up a journey from Beer-sheba to Padan-aram when one means to do the same thing right along. God demands a change in the heart, not in the habit; not so much in the record and show of the life as in the life itself.

4. Sometimes unhappiness is our chief felicity. Jacob has one good, valuable characteristic — he cannot sleep soundly when the angels of covenant grace are coming for him. It was a grand thing for this fugitive that he was restless while the ladder of love was unfolding over him.

5. Retribution is lifted only by redemption. God's mercy gave Jacob chance of becoming a new man that night. It would have saved him Penuel and a forty years' wreck had he accepted it. He might have beckoned an ascending angel to his side, and sent by him a prayer up the ladder; and then an angel descending along the shining rounds would have instantly brought him a message of pardon. Surely any man can show some sign of a penitent heart. We can be sorry we do not sorrow.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

I. Jacob is the type ISRAELITE Of his lineage. From this night Jacob becomes the pattern Jew. All that is good or bad in his descendants has its natural beginning in him.

II. Jacob is the type MAN of his race. Far from God. Homesick. What man wants is God.

III. Jacob is the type CHRISTIAN of the Church.

1. He was chosen even before he was born.

2. He is now in the thick of the conflict between nature and grace.

3. He will eventually be saved in the kingdom of heaven.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

I. THE PROPHETIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SCENE.

1. It could not have been exclusively personal to Jacob.

3. Furthermore, the vision is not exhausted in any mere engagement of God's providential care.

3. Hence the vision must be interpreted as belonging to the kingdom of grace.

4. This vision, therefore, is discharged of its full weight of meaning only when we admit it to be a fine, high symbol of Jesus Christ.

II. ITS DOCTRINAL REACH. The plan of redemption comes out in this symbol. Jesus Christ became the medium of grace and restoration. If, now, no mistake has been made in our inquiry thus far, the conclusion we have attained will be fairly corroborated from the disclosures presented of Jesus' person and work.

1. Begin with His Person. Surely no more felicitous image could have been presented. Christ's double nature is well shown. It would have been only a mockery to Jacob to disclose a ladder coming almost to this earth, yet falling short by a round or two, so as to be just out of reach. Then the angels could not have alighted, and no human foot could have risen. Nor would the case have been anywise better if he had been made to see that his ladder reached nearly to heaven, not quite. For then the angels would have had as great need as he, and an uncrossed gulf would have been beyond them in the air.

2. As to the work of Christ, furthermore, we may remark the same exquisite aptness of this figure in Jacob's vision. Examining it closely, we find that it teaches the sovereign assumption, the perfect completion, the evident display, and the free offer, of the plan of grace.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

I. RECONCILIATION IS NOW OFFERED IN GOOD FAITH TO EVERY INDIVIDUAL OF THE HUMAN RACE.

II. THE NECESSITY OF AN INSTANT AND DETERMINATE DECISION IN OUR DEALING WITH THE OFFERS OF GRACE.

III. HOW ESSENTIAL IT IS FOR EVERY SOUL THUS ADDRESSED BY THE GOSPEL OFFER TO MEASURE ALTERNATIVES.

IV. WHAT FELICITOUS DISPOSAL THIS VISION MAKES OF THE VEXED QUESTION CONCERNING THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FAITH AND WORKS.

V. GROWTH IN GRACE IS ALSO GROWTH IN EXPERIENCE.

VI. RESPONSIBILITY BEGINS THE MOMENT THE FIRST STEP OF DUTY IS DISCLOSED TO AN INTELLIGENT MAN.

VII. PERSONAL ACCEPTANCE OF JESUS CHRIST AS OUR SAVIOUR AND SURETY.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

I. ANALYSIS.

1. It is evident that God Himself was the sum and substance, the centre and glory, of that entire vision. The Almighty was disclosed in presence and purpose, in prediction and promise, as standing up over the ladder of grace for a fallen world.

2. See the effect of this discovery upon Jacob.

(1)The first thing it did was to frighten him.

(2)The next effect seems to have been some sort of sense of guilt. He vaguely feels the need of propitiation.

II. LESSONS. The truest way to produce conviction of sin is to make a disclosure of Divine holiness.

2. The uselessness of mere religious emotion without establishment of principle.

3. God really offers a chance of salvation to every man who will enter upon the new life.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

I. THAT ERRING MEN NEED DIVINE HELP.

II. THAT THIS SPECIAL HELP WAS GRANTED TO JACOB IN VIEW OF THE FUTURE. Lessons:

1. The presence of God comes closer than we often think.

2. The earthly may be in unison with the heavenly.

3. Avoid bargain-making with God. Do not say, "I could believe I am saved if only I felt happy!" Say, "He calls me to come; and as He will in no wise cast me out, I must be accepted by Him. What more dare I ask for? " Do not say, "If only I had more time, if I were not so pressed with poverty, if I had but some friend to direct me, I would serve God!" What I You do not need God because you are moneyless, friendless! What! You would walk with God in a calm, but not when a storm was yelling and dashing! Oh, foolish people and unwise! Away with all reserves! God is for us: Christ is with us. Receive what He proffers. Do as far as you know of His will, and leave all consequences with Him, sure that He will secure everlasting blessings.

(D. G. Watt, M. A.)

I. THE VISION GRANTED TO JACOB.

1. This dream taught Jacob that there is a close connection between this world and the next.

2. It taught him that God rules over all.

3. It taught him the solemnity of life.

II. THE PROMISES MADE TO JACOB.

1. That he should be greatly blessed.

2. That he should be a blessing.

3. That God would watch over him.

III. THE RESOLUTIONS FORMED BY HIM.

1. He resolved to make a memorial of the night vision and the promises.

2. He resolved to accept the Lord as his God.

3. He also resolved to give back to God a tenth.

(W. J. Evans.)

I. THERE IS A DIVINE PROVIDENCE.

II. THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT IS VEILED AND SILENT IN ITS OPERATION.

III. THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT IS ACCOMPLISHED BY MANY AGENTS.

IV. THE DIVINE PURPOSE IS ACCOMPLISHED AMID MUCH APPARENT CONFUSION.

V. THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT IS CONTINUED WITHOUT INTERRUPTION OR HINDRANCE.

VI. THE GRAND DESIGN OF THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT IS MORAL AND SAVING.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

I. THE PILGRIM. "The way of transgressors is hard." He is without a guide, friendless, defenceless.

II. THE PILGRIM'S VISION. "In Me is thy help." "Lo, I am with you alway."

III. THE PILGRIM'S VOW.

(T. S. Dickson.)

I. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS VISION.

1. The close connection between earth and heaven; between things unseen and things seen.

2. The ministry of heaven to earth; the communication between things unseen and things seen.

3. The assurance of Divine love and care.

II. WHAT THIS VISION AND REVELATION OF GOD TAUGHT JACOB.

1. The universal presence of God.

2. The sacredness of common things.

III. WHAT THIS VISION AND REVELATION LED JACOB TO DO.

1. TO set up a memorial of that night.

2. To consecrate himself to God.

(A. F. Joscelyne, B. A.)

Homilist.
I. IN THE TRUE VISION OF LIFE THERE IS A RECOGNITION OF OUR CONNECTION WITH OTHER WORLDS.

II. IN THE TRUE VISION OF LIFE THERE IS A RECOGNITION OF GOD'S RELATION TO ALL.

1. As the Sovereign of all.

2. As the Friend of man. Two things show this.

(1)Man's continuation as a sinner in such a world as this.

(2)The special means introduced for his moral restoration.

III. IN THE TRUE VISION OF LIFE THERE IS THE RECOGNITION OF A DIVINE PROVIDENCE OVER INDIVIDUALS.

1. This Biblical doctrine agrees with reason.

2. It agrees with consciousness.

IV. IN THE TRUE VISION OF LIFE THERE IS THE RECOGNITION OF THE SOLEMNITY OF OUR EARTHLY POSITION. "How dreadful is this place!"

1. Jacob's discovery introduced a new epoch into his history.

2. Jacob's discovery introduced a memorable epoch in his life.

(Homilist.)

Homilist.
I. THE EXISTENCE OF A SPIRITUAL CAPACITY IN MAN.

1. Jacob saw angels, and God Himself.

2. He heard the voice of the Infinite.

3. He felt emotions which mere animal existence could not experience.

II. THE AWAKENING OF THIS SPIRITUAL CAPACITY IN MAN.

1. It is sometimes unexpected.

2. It is always Divine.

3. It is ever glorious.

4. It is ever memorable.

(Homilist.)

I. TAKE NOTE OF THE SURROUNDINGS OF THE VISION.

1. The ambitious schemings of Jacob and his mother to supplant his brother Esau.

2. Jacob is an illustration of a man in whose soul faith struggles with ambition.

II. EMPHASIZE THE REVELATION WHICH THE VISION CONTAINS.

1. God as the God of providence.

2. The intimate union of the seen and unseen.

III. NOTICE ITS EFFECT UPON THE MIND OF HIM TO WHOM IT WAS GIVEN.

1. A sense of the universal presence of God.

2. A sense of awe which possesses the sinning soul at the revelation of God's presence.

3. A sense of penitence at the revelation of God's goodness.

(R. Thomas, M. A.)

Homilist.
I. THAT THE MORAL DISTANCE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH IS GREAT.

1. Heaven is distant from the thoughts of the ungodly.

2. The conceptions of man prove the same thing.

3. The conduct of sinners seems to confirm this statement.

II. THAT THERE IS A SPIRITUAL COMMUNICATION BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH.

1. This confers dignity upon our globe.

2. This imparts honour to man.

3. This communication is of Divine origin.

4. Heavenly communications are not dependent on the outward circumstances of man.

III. THAT THROUGH THIS COMMUNICATION ALONE MAN CAN HAVE A TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.

1. Because the human and divine are united.

2. Because through it a covenant relationship is formed between us and God.

3. It secures to us the protection of God.

4. It provides for the consummation of our highest conceptions of felicity.

IV. THAT TRUE COMMUNION WITH GOD PRODUCES REVERENTIAL FEAR IN THE HEART.

(Homilist.)

Homilist.
I. THIS VISION SUGGESTS THE IDEA OF A SPIRIT WORLD.

1. We think of a spirit —(1) As a self-modifying agent or being.(2) As a religious being.(3) As a reflecting being.(4) As a self-conscious being.

(5)As a self-complete being.

(6)As a personally responsible being.

2. That a world of such beings exists may be argued from —

(1)The structure of the visible universe.

(2)The concurrent impressions of mankind.

(3)Our own individual consciousness.

(4)The Word of God.

II. THIS VISION SUGGESTS THAT MAN IS CONNECTED WITH THE SPIRIT WORLD.

1. He is a member of it.

2. He is amenable to its laws.

3. He is now forming a character that will determine his position in it.

III. THIS VISION SUGGESTS THAT THERE IS ONE MASTER.

(Homilist.)

I. THE SITUATION AND CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH JACOB WAS PLACED when he received this visitation from heaven.

1. He was solitary.

2. He had a weary body.

3. He had an anxious mind.

4. He was asleep. The Almighty can visit and bless at a time and in a manner which we little expect.

II. THE GRACIOUS VISITATION WHICH JACOB HAD FROM GOD.

1. It was in a dream.

2. It was an encouraging visit.

3. It was a glorious visit.

4. It was a gracious visit.

III. THE EFFECTS PRODUCED ON JACOB'S MIND AND THE LINE OF CONDUCT WHICH HE WAS INDUCED TO PURSUE.

1. He was afraid.

2. He set up a pillar.

3. He changed the name of the place.

4. He entered into a solemn covenant with God.

IV. APPLICATION.

1. In our journey through life we may sometimes be solitary, dejected, and perplexed; but we often have gracious visits from the Lord.

2. The vows of God are upon us, viz., those of baptism and good resolution.

3. Do we offer unto God thanksgiving and pay our vows unto the Most High?

(Benson Bailey.)

I. WHAT JACOB SAW ON THIS OCCASION.

1. A ladder

2. Its position.

3. Its base.

4. The top of it.

5. Above it.

6. Upon it.

II. WHAT JACOB HEARD.

1. Jehovah proclaimed Himself the God of his fathers.

2. Jehovah promised him the possession of the country where he then was.

3. He promised him a numerous progeny; and that of him should come the illustrious Messiah, in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed.

4. He promised him His Divine presence and protection.

III. WHAT JACOB FELT.

1. He felt the influence of the Divine presence.

2. He felt a sacred and solemn fear.

3. He felt himself on the precincts of the heavenly world.

IV. WHAT JACOB DID.

1. He expressed his solemn sense of the Divine presence (vers. 16, 17).

2. He erected and consecrated a memorial of the events of that eventful night.

3. He vowed obedience to the Lord.

4. He went on his way in peace and safety.Application:

1. The privileges of piety. Divine manifestations, promises.

2. The duties of piety.

3. The delights of public worship. God's house is indeed the gate of heaven.

4. How glorious a place is heaven!

(J. Burns, D. D.)

I. Here is, first of all, LARGER SPACE. Jacob saw heaven. Enlargement of space has a wonderful influence upon mind and spirit of every degree and quality. Go abroad; climb the hill, and leave your sorrow there. Take in the great revelation of space, and know that God's government is no local incident or trifle which the human hand can take up and manage and dispose of. We perish in many an intellectual difficulty for want of room. Things are only big because they are near; in themselves they are little if set up with the firmament domed above them, and numbered along with other things, which give proportion to all the elements which make up the circle of their influence. Go into the field, pass over the waves of the seas, pray when the stars are all ablaze like altars that cannot be counted, and at which an infinite universe is offering its evening oblation; take in more space, and many a difficulty which hampers and frets the mind will be thrown off, and manhood will take a bound forwards and upwards. Space is not emptiness: space is a possible Church.

II. Enlarging space never goes alone; it brings with it ENLARGING LIFE. Jacob not only beheld heaven: he saw the angels coming down, going up — stirred by an urgent business. It is one thing to talk about the angels: it "is" another to see them.

III. Enlarging. "space brings enlarging life; enlarging life brings AN ENLARGING ALTAR. Jacob said, Surely the Lord is in this place." We cannot enter into Jacob's meaning of that exclamation. He had been reared in the faith that God was to be worshipped in definite and specified localities. There were places at which Jacob would have been surprised if he had not seen manifestations of God. The point is, at the place where he did not expect anything he saw heaven; he saw some form or revelation of God. See how the greater truth dawns upon his opening mind, "Surely the Lord is in this place," and that is the very end of our spiritual education; to find God everywhere; never to open a rose-bud without finding God; never to see the days whitening the eastern sky without seeing the coming of the King's brightness; so feel that every place is praying ground to renounce the idea of partial and official consecration, and stand in a universe every particle of which is blessed and consecrated by the presence of the infinite Creator.

IV. Immediately following these larger conceptions of things, we find a marvellous and instructive instance of THE ABSORBING POWER OF THE RELIGIOUS IDEA. In Jacob's dream there was but one thought. When we see God all other sights are extinguished. This is the beginning of conversion; this is essential to the reality of a new life. For a time the eye must be filled with a heavenly image; for a time the eye must be filled with a celestial message; a complete forgetfulness of everything past, a new seizure and apprehension of the whole solemn future.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

A beautiful emblem of the Saviour. It may typify —

1. The person of the Saviour.

2. The mediatorial work of Christ.

3. Christ as the only way to the Father.

4. The accessibility of Christ to the perishing sinner.

5. The connection of angels with the work and Kingdom of Christ.

6. The heavenly state to which Christ will exalt His people.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

1. The office of sorrow — even of remorse, the sorrow of sin — is to drive us from the visible to the invisible, from earth to heaven, from ourselves to God.

2. There is a ladder between earth and heaven on which angel messengers carry up our prayers to God and bring His answers down. Nay! this is but the hope of our dreams; the reality transcends it; for God is here, and needs neither ladder nor angel to communicate with us or open to us communication with Him: here in our hours of sorest need, of bitterest loneliness, of self-inflicted sorrow, of well-deserved penalty, of more poignant remorse; here as He was in the burning bush to Moses, and in the mysterious visitor to Gideon, and in the still, small voice to Elijah, and in the child wrapped in the swaddling clothes to the stable guests; and still by most of us unseen and to most of us unknown.

3. But when the veil is taken from our faces and we see Him, then the ground becomes consecrated ground, the stable a sacred place, the lowing of the cattle an anthem, Horeb a sanctuary, the land of Midian a holy land, our pile of stones a Bethel.

4. Yea! more than this; not places only but persons are transformed by this vision of the invisible, by this awakening to the truth, Lo, God is here. It here changes Abram, Chaldean worshipper, into Abraham, Friend of God; Jacob, the supplanter, into Israel, Prince of God; Moses, the impetuous murderer of the Egyptian, into the meekest man of sacred history; David, the sensual king, into the sweet singer of spiritual experiences; Jeremiah, the prophet of lamentation, into the hope and courage of Israel; Saul, the persecuting Pharisee, into Paul, the self-sacrificing Apostle; John, the son of thunder, into John the beloved disciple.

5. Finally, the poorest consecration — the gift of ourselves with even Jacob's "if" — is accepted by God as a beginning. Whosoever cometh unto Him He will in no wise cast out.

(Lyman Abbott, D. D.)

I. THE SEVERITY OF GOD. The pitiable condition of Jacob when he arrived at Bethel illustrates this. A homeless, helpless, despondent wanderer.

II. THE GOODNESS OF GOD.

1. In its suggestive symbol (ver. 12).

2. In its encouraging revelation of the Divine presence (ver. 13).

3. In its encouraging promises (vers. 13-15). Inheritance, guidance, protection, companionship.

III. THE EFFECT UPON JACOB.

1. It awoke him of his sleep.

2. It filled him with an awe-inspiring sense of the Divine presence.

3. It filled him with a spirit of worship.

4. It led him to a reconsecration of himself to God.Lessons:

1. Self-seeking even leads to failure.

2. God will never leave nor forsake His child.

3. Let us beware of a partial consecration.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

The great truth, therefore, that ariseth from hence is, that Christ is our Ladder of Life and Love, by which we have communion with God upon earth, while we live, and admission unto God in heaven, when we die. This ladder hath seven excellent properties. It is —

1. A living ladder, therefore it is called a ladder of life; a ladder that hath life in it, both intrinsically and objectively.

2. A loving ladder, that will not, cannot easily let go its hold of any such as sincerely come to it, to climb upon it, and do therein take hold of it, and thereby embrace it.

3. It is a lively ladder also that will so lovingly embrace us, and so livelily both take hold and keep hold of us, and not let us go until He has brought us up to the top of the ladder, and from thence into mansions of glory.

4. It is a lovely ladder.

(1)In its nature.

(2)In its posture.The posture and end of its erection is for saving from hell, and sending to heaven.

5. The fifth excellent property is, it is a large ladder; there is room enough both for saints and angels upon this ladder. It is so large, that it enlargeth and stretcheth out itself into all lands, as do the great luminaries of heaven. This ladder is —(1) Extensive, as it is found everywhere, Asia, Africa, or America; whether it be in the city or in the country; whether it be in public, or in private, whether in family worship, or closet retirements; in all those places believers do find this large ladder of love let down to them, and there doth Christ give them his loves (Song of Solomon 7:11, 12). Upon which account the apostle saith, "I will that men pray everywhere," etc. (1 Timothy 2:8), whether in the fields, or in the villages, or in the vineyards, or under the secret places of the stairs (Song of Solomon 2:14). Any place, yea a chimney corner may make a good Oratory upon this ladder, whereon Christ accounteth our voices sweet, and our countenances comely. And this ladder, Christ.(2) It is comprehenensive to all persons; there is room enough upon this ladder for all the saints in all the nations of the world.

6. The sixth excellent property — it is a long and lofty ladder, so long as to reach from earth to heaven.

7. The seventh excellent property of this ladder is, it is a lasting, yea, an everlasting ladder.

(C. Nose.)

I. THE DUALITY OF EXISTENCE. Let us pause for a moment and contemplate our own existence; for each one of us is a little universe, a miniature representation of the great universe of which we form a part, Now, we carry within ourselves a kind of double consciousness. We have a higher nature and a lower nature, a spiritual side and a material side, an immortal element and a mortal element. It is this double consciousness that has suggested to heathen nations the existence of another world. Men of thought and reflection among them have discovered in themselves powers that can never be developed in the present life, desires that can never be satisfied by any material objects, and hence they have speculated and discoursed concerning a higher, a nobler, a more permanent state of existence. But Jacob was not left to grope after this knowledge by the light of his own reason. In this magnificent vision of the night, the truth is made known to him in all its imposing details, is revealed to him with marvellous clearness and emphatic precision. This truth is taught unto you, not by the uncertain voice of your constitution, as it was to ancient sages; not by supernatural visions, as it was to Jacob; but by the explicit and authoritative teaching of God's word. It was a part of Christ's mission, when He assumed our nature, to teach us this truth; for He brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. He came to elevate us, by setting us free from the tyranny of sense, and directing our thoughts to things invisible. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you."

II. THE UNITY OF EXISTENCE. We know that we possess both a material and a spiritual nature, but the point at which they come in contact it is impossible to ascertain. You have a definite reply in the text. Heaven above and earth below are connected by one great ladder. They are, therefore, not two, but one. "And, behold, the Lord stood above it." The Lord of heaven is also the Lord of earth; heaven End earth are therefore united into one realm. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland contains different countries; all separate, yet all united; owing allegiance to the same sovereign. The universe is a vast united kingdom, embracing different provinces, different principalities, different powers; but all alike subject to the central government. "And, behold, the angels of God ascending and descending on it." The spirit-world is very near to us, we are but one step removed from it, were our eyes opened we should perceive that it stands round about us. Indeed, we are sometimes inclined to believe that material forms are but symbolical representations of spiritual realities, that the things which are seen are but outward manifestations of the things which are not seen. Through its agony and atoning death, the way which sin had shut up has been reopened. God can have mercy upon us, can hold communion with us, can send His angels down to comfort us in our troubles, to strengthen us in our conflicts, and at last to bear our ransomed souls to glory. The unity of existence! It is a wonderful, and yet a solemn fact. All being is but one vast territory, broken up into innumerable separate parts, but all united under one sceptre. Dream not, then, that when you quit this world, you will become the subject of a different government, or become amenable to different laws.

(D. Rowlands, B. A.)

A company of shipwrecked sailors cast on the coast of Scotland at the bottom of a great precipice, where the water would have broken up their vessel and drowned them, found a ladder hanging down the precipice, which they reached from their ship's mast, and escaped thereby. So Christ is to us a ladder of salvation, and if we believe on Him we shall be saved from all evil, and we may rise to be holy, happy, and useful.

(D. Rowlands, B. A.)

I. CONSIDER WHAT JACOB SAW.

II. CONSIDER WHAT HE HEARD.

1. "I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac." It is well to have a known God, a tried God, a family God, and a father's God; it is well to be able to say, as the Church does in the twenty-second Psalm, "Our fathers trusted in Thee: they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them." It is well for you, when God looks down and sees you walking in the same path that your fathers did who are gone to heaven before you, "followers of those who through faith and patience are now inheriting the promises."

2. "The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed." God had already given it by promise to Abraham, but at present he had no inheritance, not so much as to set his foot on. But as God had given it to him and his seed by promise, it was as sure as if in actual possession. Yet several hundred years were previously to elapse, and they must suffer much in Egypt, and must wander forty years in the wilderness. But what of this? It was the land of promise; God had given them it, and nothing could hinder their possession of it.

3. "And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south." And so it was. You know in a few years they became an innumerable people, and what millions since have descended from this one patriarch.

4. "And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." This refers to the Messiah. To them as concerning the flesh He came, God having raised up His Son, even Jesus, who "delivered us from the wrath to come." In His name we are blessed with all spiritual blessings. This promise has as yet received only a partial accomplishment. Few as yet are blessed with faithful Abraham. But we read of a nation being "born in a day"; that all nations of the earth shall be blessed in Him; that all shall know the Lord from the least even to the greatest.

5. "And, behold, I am with thee." So He is with all His people. His essential presence fills heaven and earth.

6. "And will bring thee again into this land." This would be gladsome tidings to Jacob, for who is he that could not rejoice at such tidings concerning a country where he was born and bred, the residence of his most impressive years?

7. "For I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." But would He leave him then? Oh no; his anxieties therefore were entirely unnecessary. Thus it is with Christians: they have exceeding great and precious promises, "All yea and amen in Christ Jesus," and all of them must be fulfilled before God leaves His people. Will He leave you then? No, He will never leave you, nor forsake you, to all eternity. As your day is, so shall your strength be while here; hereafter all tears shall be wiped from your eyes.

III. OBSERVE WHAT HE DID.

1. He discovered and acknowledged what he was ignorant of before he went to sleep.

2. He confessed a privilege.

3. He reared a memorial.

4. He vowed a vow.

(W. Jay.)

I. THE SITUATION OF JACOB AT THIS PRESENT TIME.

1. And, that we may understand this more accurately, let us notice his character. According to the chronology of sacred Scripture, Jacob was now more than seventy years of age; so that his character was not then to be formed. He had lived sufficiently long to develop all its reigning tendencies; and though some might be disposed to conclude, from the impropriety of his conduct on this occasion, that he was yet a stranger to God, and to the renewing influence of Divine grace, yet an accurate knowledge of human nature, and an extensive acquaintance with the errors of men of sincere piety, would hardly sanction so harsh a conclusion.

2. His affliction. A short time previously Jacob had no enemy. Behind him were the terrors of murderous revenge, and before him the uninteresting waste of an untried world. To this must be added the sorrows of separation from all that he had learned to love. These things could not but press upon him as he went out from Beer-sheba to Haran; and the distress of his heart would be in a still greater degree aggravated by the consciousness of guilt. He had defrauded his brother — he had deceived his father — he had lied unto God. The peace of conscience which he once enjoyed must have been disturbed. He could not look up with cheerful confidence towards the God of truth. Sin against God has ever had the same character and effects. It drove the angels out of heaven, and our first parents out of paradise.

3. His submission. Not a word of murmuring appears on the record — nothing of the spirit of resistance — no high rebellious contending against the providence of God; but silently he obeys the injunctions of parental authority; and with nothing but his staff, he steals unobtrusively from under his father's roof, and enters alone upon the pilgrimage, which his misconduct had rendered necessary. There would be, however, some comfort even in the spirit of pious submission.

4. His afflicted mind would, in the midst of trial, be in some measure cheered by the expectation which he had been warranted to encourage. He was yet, as a matter of grace, encouraged to look upon himself as one " whom the Lord had blessed"; and it appears, that in the sorrowful hour of his departure from home, his father, fearing lest, in his exile, he should " be swallowed up of overmuch sorrow," gave him even additional encouragement. He confirmed the blessing to him in language still more distinct" God Almighty bless thee, and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee." We see, then, Jacob fallen and afflicted, but submissive, penitent, and borne up by hope in the promise of God, taking his journey through the wilderness, till the shadows of evening lengthen round him — till the setting sun finds him in a solitary spot, remote from the dwellings of man; where the turf must be his bed-the circle of heaven his canopy — and one of the stones of the place his pillow; and where, if he finds comfort, it must be from a source beyond the range of human calculation. We must not attach to such a scene, in a warm climate, all the desolateness of a houseless wanderer among ourselves; but still, such a combination of circumstances wears the strong character of chastening; and we may write upon it that interesting passage of Holy Writ. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." Jacob strove to hasten an event which he should have looked for in the regular course of God's providence — the result is that he delays it. He aimed at the pre-eminence in his father's house, and, in a few hours he is resting his houseless head upon a stony pillow in the wilderness. Such dispensations are highly calculated for the advancement of the spiritual character. God only can make the storm a fertilizing, rather than a desolating shower.

II. But we come to consider THE CONSOLATION WHICH WAS MERCIFULLY VOUCHSAFED TO JACOB IN HIS SOLITUDE. In the failure of all sources of earthly comfort, God generally appears most especially, for the support of those who trust in Him.

1. The obscure intimation of a gracious reconciliation with God through a mediator.

2. The second lesson inculcated in this vision was the providential protection of God. It was shown to him, that He who through a sufficient mediation was a reconciled God, would also be a father, a protector, a guide. It is scarcely possible to conceive a more kind and encouraging address, to one in the circumstances of Jacob. It is calculated to give a very exalted idea of the mercy of God, who not only blesses beyond what we ask or think; but even when we think not, meets his erring and disconsolate children with the assurances of a love that cannot be averted, and a fatherly protection that will never fail. How blessed are they who have the Lord for their God! In the midst of outward affliction and inward trial, Jacob was crowned with blessings that empire could not command, and that wealth could not buy. Let not then the pilgrim of the cross be discouraged. A rich provision is made for you — a throne of grace is open to you; a willing helper only waits, and scarcely waits, for the petition of faith, that he may give you aid. How deeply is their lot to be regretted who have never sought the Redeemer, the guardian, the guide, the comforter of Jacob! — how much is the mere man of this present world to be pitied!

(E. Craig.)

It was a good while ago that a young man, sleeping one night in the open air, had a wonderful vision of a ladder that reached up all the way into heaven. Whatever else it meant, it was at least a vision of what his life might be, of what every life may be, of what every true and noble life must be. Its foot rested on the earth; and we must all start very low down. He who would ascend a ladder, puts his foot first on the lowest round. We cannot start in life at the top, but must begin at the bottom and climb up. We cannot begin as angels, nor as holy saints, nor even as moderately advanced Christians. We must begin in the most rudimentary way, with the simplest duties, just as the wisest men once sat with primer and spelling-book in hand. But this ladder was not lying all along on the earth; its foot was on the ground, but its top was up above the stars, amid the glory of God's presence. A true life rises heavenward. It is a poor, an unworthy, life-plan that is all on the earth, that lifts no eye or thought upward, that does not take heaven into its purpose. The true life must press upward until it reaches glory. Its aim is the perfection of character. Its constant aspirations are for holiness and righteousness — Christlikeness. Its goal is heaven itself. A ladder is climbed step by step; no one leaps to the top. And no one rises to sainthood at a bound. No one gets the victory once for all over his sins and faults. It is a struggle of long years; and every day must have its own victories, if we are ever to be crowned. It may give some people considerable comfort to think of life's course as a ladder, which one must climb slowly, step by step. A ladder is not easy to ascend. It is toilsome work to go up its rounds. It is not easy to rise Christward; it is hard, costly, painful. Railroad tracks suggest speed, but a ladder suggests slow progress. We rise upward in spiritual life, not at railway speed, nor even at the racer's rate of progress, but as men go up a ladder. Then there is another side to this truth. Men do not fly up ladders; yet they go up step by step. We ought always to be making at least some progress in Christian life, as the years go on. Each day should show some slight advance in holiness, some new conquest over the evil that is in us, some besetting sin or wrong habit gotten a little more under our feet. Every fault we overcome lifts us a little higher. Every low desire, every bad habit, all longings for ignoble things, that we trample down, become ladder-rounds on which we climb upward out of grovelling and sinfulness into nobler being. There really is no other way by which we can rise upward. If we are not living victoriously these little common days, we are not making any progress. Only those who climb are getting toward the stars. Heaven is for those who overcome. Not that the struggle is to be made in our own strength, or that the victories are to be won by our own hands; there is a mighty Helper with us always on the ladder. He does not carry us up, always we must do the climbing; but He helps and cheers, putting ever new strength into the heart, and so aiding every one who truly strives in His name to do his best. The ladder did not come to an end half-way up to heaven; it reached to the very steps of God's throne. A true life is persistent and persevering, and ends not short of glory. It is ladder, too, all the way; it does not become a plain, easy, flower lined path after a time. A really earnest and faithful Christian life never gets easy. The easy way does not lead upward; it leads always downward. Nothing worth living for can be had without pain and cost and struggle. Every step up the way to heaven is up-hill, and steep besides. Heaven always keeps above us, no matter how far we climb up toward it. However long we have been climbing, and whatever height we have reached, there are always other victories to win, other heights to gain. We shall never get to the top of the ladder until our feet are on heaven's threshold. This wonderful vision-ladder was radiant with angels. We are not alone in our toilsome climbing. We have the companionship and ministry of strong friends we have never seen. Besides, the going up and coming down of these celestial messengers told of communication never interrupted between God and those who are climbing up the ladder. There is never a moment, nor any experience, in the life of a true Christian, from which a message may not instantly be sent up to God, and back to which help may not instantly come. God is not off in heaven merely, at the top of the long, steep life-ladder, looking down upon us as we struggle upward in pain and tears. As we listen, we hear Him speak to the sad, weary man who lies there at the foot of the stairway, and He says: "Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest; I will not leave thee." Not angel championship alone, precious as it is, is promised, but Divine companionship also, every step of the toilsome way, until we get home. It is never impossible, therefore, for any one to mount the ladder to the very summit; with God's strong, loving help the weakest need never faint nor fail.

(J. M. Miller, D. D.)

I. JACOB'S DREAM.

1. When he dreamed it.

2. What the dream was.

3. What it meant.

II. JACOB'S WAKING THOUGHTS.

1. Humble surprise.

2. Reverential awe.

3. A joyful discovery.

III. JACOB'S VOW.

1. The preparation.

2. The vow itself. Jacob dedicates

(1)himself,

(2)his substance, to God.

(J. Hambleton, M. A.)

There comes a time when every young man or maiden must start out upon life. The seed that ripens upon the stalk must be shaken off, and be planted, and grown upon its own root. The scion is cut away from the parent branch and grafted upon another stalk. It is at the starting out in life that every one needs an inspiration, and will have it, either good or bad. It is just at this point that every one needs, in some way suited to his genius, his circumstances and condition, that there should happen to him substantially that which happened to Jacob; that in his vision (which may be upon his bed, or may be one of those waking visions which men have) there should be a ladder, which, touching the earth, connects it with heaven; and a vision of God's angels passing between the Father and His earthly child. Let me, then, not so much preach as talk with you of your visions; and I address myself mainly to the young — to those that are just entering upon life. Shall your ladder, standing on the earth, reach to heaven? or is your ladder, in its whole length, flat along the ground? Stop one moment, and think, you who have started out, or are about starting. By ladder I mean your plans in life. Are they, all of them, lying upon the ground, or, though they begin there, do they really go up, and consciously take hold of the future and of the spiritual? Man must not avoid the world. Every ladder should stand upon the ground. The ground is a very good place to start from, but a very poor place to stop on. No man can be a Christian by separating himself from his kind. No man can be a Christian by avoiding business; and if you transact business, it must be transacted in the accustomed ways. Activity in earthly things is not inconsistent with true piety. A right industry, a right enterprise, and right ambitions in these, do not stand in the way of true religion. They not only perfectly harmonize with it, but they are indispensable to it. I can scarcely conceive of a lazy man being a Christian. Even the chronicles of those that have sought by retiring to caves, and thus separating themselves from human life, to live a Christian life, show that while they escaped from men, they did not escape from the temptations which sprang up through the passions of human nature. A human life, in its ordinary condition in Christian communities, is favourable (if one be wise enough to employ it) to the production of morality, of virtue, and of true piety. A man's ladder, then, should stand on the ground. A man that is going to be a Christian should be a man among men — joined in interest with them, sympathising in their pursuits, active in daily duties; not above the enterprise, the thoughtfulness, and the proper amount of care that belong to the worldly avocations. This is a part of the Divine economy; and those that have the romantic notion of piety, that it is something that lifts them out of the way of and away from actual worldly cares, misconceive totally the methods of Divine grace. But while man's plans in this world should be secular, and adapted to the great laws of that physical condition in which he was born, they must not end where they begin. Woe be to him that uses the earth for the earth, or whose plans are wholly material, beginning and ending in secularity and materiality; who means by fortune — riches, and nothing else; who means by power — carnal, temporal power, and nothing else; whose pleasure consists in that which addresses itself to the senses, and in nothing else. Woe be to him who lays out a plan which has nothing in it but this world. At the very time when you plant your ladder on the ground, you must see to it that it is long enough to reach, and that it does reach, and rests its top in heaven. This world and the other must be consciously connected in every true man's life. This world is shallow. Our atmosphere is smotheringly near to us. There is no manhood possible that does not recognize an existence beyond our horizon, and that does not stretch itself up into the proportions, at least ideal, which belong to it as a creature of the Infinite. And even if one were to look only upon natural results and economic courses, he is best prepared for this life who considers this life to be made up of this life and of that which is to come. In every outstarting in life it is not enough that you propose to yourself to do well in this world — your "this world" must reach to the other, Along every man's ladder should be seen God's good angels. You are not at liberty to execute a good plan with bad instruments. When you lay the course of your life out before you, and say to yourself that you propose to achieve in your mortal life such and such things, it is not a matter of indifference to you how you achieve them. God's angels must ascend and descend on your ladder, otherwise other and worse angels will. When youth first opens, if it has been Christianity instructed, I think the impulses generally are noble, and even romantic. Youth characteristically aspires to do things that are right, and to do them in a right manner. One of the earliest experiences is that of surprise and even horror at the world's ignoble ways, and the temporary withdrawal of the young soul from its first contacts with life. Its first comprehension of actual life, and of what must be done in the world, if one would succeed, violates its romantic notion of manly truthfulness, of straightforwardness, of honourable dealings. Almost all young men come up to that period of life at which they are to break away from home, and go out into the world, with the most generous purposes. They seem inspired by truth, honesty, fidelity, enterprise, generosity, honour and even heroism. These all belong to youthful aspirations. They mean never to forsake these things. They mean to carry these qualities into their lives, and to live by them. Now these are God's good angels to you; not that there are none better; but it may be well said that these nobler incitements, and motives, and aspirations stand along the line of a young man's plans in life as so many angelic messengers by which he purposes to work out his ideal in life. Let every one who begins life, then, have a plan along which are clearly seen noble sentiments and convictions. No plan is fit for achievement which you cannot achieve by open, honest, clean, upright Christian motives. You cannot afford to succeed by any other course. Your ladder, though standing on the ground, should rest its top in heaven; and there should be angels constantly passing between the top and the bottom. It is bad enough to have a plan that begins on earth and stays on earth; but for a man having a good plan to consent to execute it from base sentiments or by base influences, is unpardonable. Your life will task and prove you. Do not, however, let it drive away from you those influences which overhang your childhood. Have they not already gone from some of you? Has not an enamel already formed over some of your tender feelings? Have not some of you boasted of forgetfulness? Have you not boasted that you no longer remembered or were influenced by those tender impulses? and that you have strengthened yourself against them? that you have devastated, to some extent, purity, delicacy, refinement, truth, honour, justice, and rectitude? Are you not already working down toward the animal conditions of life? Do not, however, trust alone to those generous sentiments. Morality is not piety. In the vision of Jacob there was not alone the ladder between the earth and heaven, and the angels ascending and descending, but brightest, and best, and grandest, and behind all the angels, stood God, saying to him, "I am thy father's God." Now high above all a man's plans, high above all his heroic moral resolves, there is to be a living trust in God; and there is to be a soul-connection between ourselves or our business, and our God. All our life long we must not be far from Him. Piety must quicken morality; then life will be safe, and will be successful. Here, then, is a general schedule of a right life; something to do that is right; a plan by which you shall execute a right life by right instruments; and over all, the benign, genial, stimulating influence of the heavenly Father. Business, morality, piety — these three should be coupled together. They are the trinity of influences from which every one should act, and it is transcendently important that young men should find this out before they find out anything else. Blessed be that man who, going from his father's house, and lying down to sleep, though it be upon the ground, and though the stones be under his head, sees a ladder between heaven and earth, typifying his future life, and on that ladder angels ascending and descending, and hears God saying to him, "I am thy God." That is an inspiration on life's threshold, worth any man's aspirations.

(H. W. Beecher)

Four points present themselves for consideration in the spiritual meaning of this vision.

I. The perfect Manhood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The ladder "was set up on the earth."

II. The eternal Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ. "The top of it reached to heaven."

III. The mediatorial character of our Lord Jesus Christ, resulting from this union of two natures in one Person. He is here represented as a ladder between earth and heaven.

IV. The communications carried on through the Mediator between earth and heaven. The angels of God were seen "ascending and descending on" the ladder. Prayer, grace, mercy, peace, praise — these are the messages, with which the several angels are charged respectively.

(Dean Goulburn).

I. The appearance is a ladder; and, now, the dullest of comprehension must at once feel that one mournful truth is here taught. We are plainly reminded of this emblem that the natural normal communication between God and man has been destroyed; and that, by the fall, this planet has been placed in a state of isolation and non-intercourse with heaven.

II. Having considered the first truth taught by this vision, let us now pass to the second, let us examine the medium which God provides to renew this intercourse, to re-establish this alliance between earth and heaven. We have spoken of a disruption, of a chasm such as no thunder ever rifted, and over this abyss angel thoughts must have often hovered in grief and dismay. And, now, can this breach never be healed? is this yawning gulf for ever impassable? Can no skill construct, no virtue, no prayers, win a path of return for a single soul? Must all hope for man be for ever buried in despair? To these questions human reason could not have given but one answer. Human reason, did I say? Cherub and seraph must have shuddered as they gazed at the rent sin had made; and, recalling a frightful tragedy among the celestial hierarchies, they must have felt that for man all was "lost" — not in danger of being lest — but lost, the soul lost, heaven lost, hope lost, all lost, and lost for ever. But blessed be God, hosannah to His grace; everlasting praises to Him who came "to seek and to save that which was lost," these questions have been answered, and so answered that angels are lost in pondering such mercy. Eternal wisdom and power and love have solved the problem, and solved it by consecrating for us "a new and living way." In the first place, observe that God, not man, is the architect of this ladder. Jacob did nothing — could do nothing — towards its construction. And so, if we "have boldness to enter into the holiest," it is "not by works of righteousness which we have done," but "by the blood of Jesus." Mark, in the next place, the form and position of this ladder; its foot is planted on the earth, and its top reaches to heaven. A third truth taught by this remarkable vision is the freeness of salvation by Jesus. What conditions are here interposed? What fitness? What works? Between God and man there is one mediator, Jesus Christ; but between that mediator and man there is, there can be none.

III. We have thus seen that the ladder on which Jacob gazed was a type of Christ, of the mysterious interference by which heaven and earth are reconciled. It is not, however, only in this district of God's moral dominion that so wonderful an interposition is the subject of intense and adoring interest. On this ladder the patriarch saw an order of beings far superior to man. From top to bottom it swarmed with radiant cherubim and seraphim, "the angels of God ascending and descending." "Ascending and descending"; exulting that this new avenue has been opened; and, at once, in eager bands, pouring down to earth as "ministering spirits to minister to them who are heirs of salvation." "Descending"; coming down to encamp about the righteous, whether they sleep or wake, and deliver them — as it is written, "He shall give His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways; they shall bear thee up in their hands lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." And "ascending"; now to bear the news of a sinner's repentance and send a tide of rapture and gratulation along the habitations of heaven; and now to escort the soul of some Lazarus — to guard it from the "prince of the power of the air," who watches like a wolf scared from his prey — to guide it on its course, some as strong-winged avant couriers, and some as convoys wafting it up to realms of peace and purity and love, to the bosom of its God.

(R. Fuller.)

I. THE WEARY WANDERER.

1. Homeless.

2. Regretful.

3. Apprehensive.

4. Disappointed.

II. THE WONDROUS VISION.

III. THE WILLING VOW. Rather a response to God than a bargain with Him. Lessons: Note how Jacob, in this journey, may represent three stages in spiritual experience.

1. The penitent; feeling the burden of sin.

2. The believer; rejoicing, with trembling, in God's revelation of mercy.

3. The worshipper; consecrating his whole life to the service of his God and Saviour.

(W. S. Smith, B. D.)

This sacred story of Jacob's night at Bethel may serve to teach us that in our darkest and most desolate moments God may be using our trouble and despondency as a means of drawing our hearts to Him. We may find Him nearest when we thought Him farthest off. What the world would call the greatest misfortune may be found to have been sent in the greatest mercy. There is no such word as chance or accident in the inspired vocabulary of faith. Nobody but a sceptic or a misanthrope would say of himself "I am as a weed, Flung from the rock on ocean's foam to sail Where'er the surge may sweep, the tempest's breath prevail." All places are safe, all losses are profitable, all things work together for good to them that love God. Every experience of the unsatisfactory nature of earthly things should direct us to the stronghold of hope. Every pang caused by an uneasy conscience should awaken within us a more intense longing for the peace which passeth all understanding. Out in mid-ocean there is a ship tossing on the waves. The night is dark, the winds are high. The angry elements rage and howl as if determined to tear the shattered vessel in pieces or sink it in the deep. A sailor-boy has just climbed down from the swinging mast and crept into his narrow locker, wet and cold, to get a little rest. He sleeps unconscious of the howl of the storm and the roll of the groaning ship. His heart is far away in that quiet home which he left for a roving life on the seas. He hears again the voice of evening prayer offered from the parental lips, and one fervent, tender petition bears his own name to the throne of the infinite mercy. The Sabbath bell calls, and he goes in the light of memory, with his youthful companions, along the green walks and beneath the shade of ancient trees to the village church. He hears the blessed words of Christ, "Come unto Me." God is speaking to that wanderer upon the seas as He spoke to Jacob at Bethel in the dreams of the night. And that vision of home and voice of prayer is sent to that sailor-boy to make the tossing ship to him the house of God and gate of heaven. When he wakes from that brief and troubled sleep, he has only to answer the call of Heaven, as Jacob did, with the gift of his heart, and that night of tossing on the lonely seas shall be to him also the beginning of a new and a better life. Far away, among the mountains of Nevada, where of old God's creative hand locked up veins of gold in the fissures of the rock, the weary miner lies down in his cheerless cabin to sleep. It is the evening of the blessed Sabbath, and yet to him it has not been a day of rest. Work, work, work, with hammer and spade and drill, from morn to eve, through all the week, has been his life for months and years. His calloused hands, and stiffened frame, and weary step, tell of hardships such as few can bear and live. And he has borne them all — with heat and cold, and rain and drought, and famine and fever — that he might fill his hands with gold. And now, in this wakeful and lonely hour, something impels him to ask himself what all the treasures of the mountains would be worth to him if he had not found rest for his soul. To that tired, Sabbathless worker in his solitude comes a gentle influence, as if it were an angel's whisper, to tell him of riches that never perish, and of a home where the weary are at rest. Thus, all round the earth — on the sea and the land, in the city and the wilderness, by night and by day — God is calling wanderers home.

(D. March, D. D.)

The angels of God ascending and descending on it.

I. The first white-winged angel whom I ask you to look in the face is ADVANCEMENT. From our earliest to our latest years personal advancement is a keen and noble satisfaction. It is the antagonism which we have to overcome which makes our effort interesting and meritorious. When we strive to go up, the force of gravitation pulls us back. The inertia of our own bodies must be overcome; the lungs, heart, and brain must be subjected to a greater pressure. And it is just so in our moral life. Therefore the saint says, "It was good for me that I was afflicted." Therefore we teach that discontent is a good thin, g, that languorous situations are to be avoided, and that a repletion of any sort is dangerous to the soul. Just as soon as a man feels that there is no need for further effort, his angel descends. Perhaps one reason why the angels of little children always behold the face of their Father who is in heaven is because children grow so fast and hunger so after knowledge, and ask questions so far-reaching that they puzzle their too often motionless elders. Biology teaches that, in the life below our own, the life of the animals, when some function which has been long and sorely striven for, perhaps through countless generations, gets fixed in the order of life, its action becomes automatic, and is no longer a factor in the mental outreaching of the individual. It is so also with man. You may be advanced beyond your neighbours in generosity of belief, in the strictness of your veracity, in the extent of your benevolence; but if you are simply carrying out the spiritual functions which your ancestors organized in you by toil and tears, if your faith, truthfulness, charity, cost you no effort, no upward strain, it is not accounted to you for righteousness. And then we learn from science that everything which can become merely mechanical has its day and ceases to be. Only that which is subject to perpetual change can survive.

II. The next angel is MORALITY. Even morality in us is not always ascending. It proceeds or recedes. How many times in the world's history all rights have been determined and all moralities squared! To-day nothing is more alarming to most people than the notion that right has been a variable thing with the growing ages. Conscience is the voice of God in the soul of man; but how has that soul of man echoed and contorted the voice! The sense of the right is growing, as it long has grown in the race. Except it is growing in you, as an individual, so that you feel its birth-pangs, and struggle with them, it is not an ascending angel for you. Morality is an angel anywhere — in African jungles, where it keeps a man from killing the members of his household unless they are old or sick, and in the best neighbour you can call to mind, who is too honourable to take an unfair advantage of another. Cicero was moral; and we are told that Brutus was an houourable man. But the stride which morality took from these Roman heroes to Abraham Lincoln is a very marked one, known and read of all men. Thirty years since it was immoral in America not to respect the physical rights of white men. To-day it is immoral not to maintain the rights of men, whatever their colour. After a little it will be accounted simply moral to give woman her rights, the custody of her own child, the control of her own earnings and clothes, the right to express an opinion as to how much she shall be taxed, how much of her property the public may appropriate, the right to as much civil consideration as the ignorant Irishman receives who cracks stone on the road. Some time we shall so enlarge the boundaries of morality that men will be forbidden to enslave the minds of their fellows, that they may appropriate their property through the larceny of their brains. Some time it will be thought as dastardly a deed to slowly unnerve and stamp out men by whiskey as it was to poison them with wines, perfumes, roses, and fans in the soft days of luxurious Rome. Some time a man who simply does so much right as custom exacts, who clamours for the letter, as Shylock for the word of the bond, shall be a byword and a hissing; for the only claim you can lay upon the future springs from your individual advance upon the sense of morality you have inherited.

III. The third angel is INSPIRATION. Of what avail is the evolution of our life below, and the growth of conduct into better and best, if the Holy Spirit does not occasionally hold us as the pledge of eternal possession? For, of course, by inspiration here I mean the filling of your soul and mine with the sweetest assurance. The inspiration which made our sacred volume, which long since scented and winged a poet soul in Persia, so that its orisons flew to our day and clime, which made great India like a sandal-wood chest out of which come to-day poems and teachings, fragrantly preserved, is only as a faded nosegay which your aged mother shows as a souvenir of her young days, only as a pathetic glove which a century since eased a young hand which soon was dust. But to you there may come an exhilaration before which clover-scented mornings are but a passing dream. The descending angel of inspiration is going down now to trouble the waters of ancient Siloam, hovering with a ghost's dead hands over interpretations of Scripture long since palsied through disuse, raising again the widow's son by the gate of Nain. The ascending angel is wreathing with an electric flush the human pillar of integrity; it is steadying man's moral nerve to translate correctly all that observers see in nature and life; it is lifting from the dead past capacities which have lapsed in us, in our forward march, and restoring to man an equable health of body and soul, a confidence in an all-round Providence, which will make us patient and calm, and a power of knowing much which is unseen, as animals know, and even inanimate life, but which is as dropped stitches in our life. The angel of inspiration bids us look up, and calls, "Come"; but, in looking and going upward, we lift the world with us. Believe that inspiration is ahead of you and within. It is a messenger of God. It is the crown of effort and of purity. It does not descend with family heirlooms, mental or moral. It is the gift of God to the individual. There are many angels besides those I have named. Belief is one, if it is allied to inspiration; but let these three lead you — Advancement, Morality, Inspiration. They can open to you abiding joys of which my word is but a feeble hint: —

"Around your lifetime golden ladders rise;

And up and down the skies,

With winged sandals shod,

The angels come and go, the messengers of God."

(A. S. Nickerson.)

I. The most obvious truth herein conveyed s, of course, the constant presence and activity of the inhabitants of heaven; and indeed it is the general tenor of Scripture that God acts upon us men by and through the angelic host. "The providence of God," says Bishop Bull, "in the government of this lower world, is in a great part administered by the holy angels. These, as Philo terms them, are 'the ears and eyes of the Universal King.'" The expression alludes to the government of earthly monarchs, who have their deputies in all parts of their dominion, who are, as it were, the eyes by which they see and the hands by which they act. Now, if we learn to believe in the principle that God deals with us through the ministrations of angels, we shall have to believe also that we ourselves are in these days the subject of these ministrations, although we behold them not. It is not empty space between earth and heaven; the pathways of the air are filled like the roads and avenues of this world. "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels." Bound upon unnumbered missions, they hurry to and fro, those swift and shining forms; now to superintend a kingdom's welfare, now to hold up a monarch's steps; now to guard the head of some mighty chief in the shock of battle, now to wait beside the sick bed of some houseless poor one, to suggest thoughts of peace to the heart racked with pain and care; and eventually, when the last sand has run out, to waft the liberated soul to the green pastures and the still waters of paradise: for have we not read how it is that they receive us into the everlasting habitations? And it is as revealing this general and universal law that the dream of Jacob is especially remarkable. What he saw then is always, unceasingly, going on. "Ascending and descending" I From the beginning of the world's history until now that ever-moving host have been rushing to and fro, unseen, save by him who slumbered on the couch of stone. "He called the place Bethel," and supposed that the particular spot on which he rested was opposite to the gate of heaven. Ah! vain imagination! in every quarter of creation the same dazzling scene is being enacted. From every part of the firmament are ever, ever issuing those "watchers and holy ones." No foot of earth is unvisited by them, no tract of air is unswept by their forms of fire. In the bright sunshine they are with us; in the stilly hours of slumber they keep sentinel watch around us. Do you ask bow it happens that we feel them not? Yea, sirs, do we not feel their influence? Have we never experienced strong and irresistible impulses upon our minds to do certain things, impulses which we cannot explain, but which the event proves to have been for our good? Have we never been diverted, by sudden and unexpected accidents cast in our way, from going on some journey which, if we had pursued, we learn afterwards, would have been productive of loss of life or limb? What strange ominous forebodings and fears ofttimes seize upon men of the strongest minds, warnings of approaching perils or of coming death, warnings which, if listened unto, would enable many a man to prepare for his meeting with God. And all these things we would have you attribute to nothing less than the care and tenderness of those guardian spirits, who are never far absent from the heirs of salvation. And is there nothing more? Have we not seen or read of death-beds where the sufferer hath been soothed by whisperings unheard by other ears, and charmed with the melody of strains which none could catch save the parting soul? Oh, men and brethren, call it not what the infidel calls it, the wanderings of a disordered mind. Rather believe that angel-guards are verily near, nerving the soul in the last agony, and beckoning onwards to its rest. Rather believe that, as the earthly house of this tabernacle decays, the immortal spirit gets closer converse with celestial things. Rather learn to hope that ye too, when your last hour arrives, and ye stand trembling on the brink of eternity, may be calmed and encouraged by the sight of the ministers of grace, and see in a measure what Jacob saw of old, "the angels of God ascending and descending" around you.

II. If we take the vision as designed to instruct the mind of the patriarch as to angelic ministries, we cannot suppose "the ladder planted upon the earth" to be without significance. What, then, may we hence learn? what further light is hence thrown upon the mysterious subject of spiritual agency? Now, the first truth conveyed to us has reference, we think, to the nature of angels. Jacob saw angels ascending and descending, but he saw this descent and ascent accomplished by a ladder. There was an external and independent instrumentality. The language of Scripture does not teach us to regard the angels as purely spiritual creatures. It is probably the peculiar property of God alone to be entirely immaterial. "God," it is emplastically declared, "is a Spirit." He, and none beside Him, is wholly without bodily parts. It is, indeed, said of the Almighty, "He maketh His angels spirits"; but we are not hence to conclude that they have no body at all. When the term spirit is employed to denote the angelic nature, we must take it in a lower sense, to denote their exemption from those gross and earthly bodies which the inhabitants of this world possess. They are not flesh and blood, as we are; nor is their substance like any of those things that fall under our observation. Yet have they a body, subject, it would appear, to the action of time; for in the Book of Daniel the angel Gabriel declares that the command was given him to visit the prophet when he began his supplications; and it is added that, flying swiftly, he came to him and touched him about the hour of the evening sacrifice. Now, it is the proper attribute of a body, as distinguished from a pure spirit, to require time to convey itself from one locality to another. "God is a Spirit," a perfect Spirit, and He is everywhere at once; a body cannot be in more than one spot at a time. The angels, then, we conclude, have bodies, but bodies of a most refined and glorious quality. The bodies of angels, we may conceive, are spiritual bodies; not like ours, sluggish and inactive, incapable of keeping pace with the nimble and rapid movements of the mind, but of a wonderful subtlety, travelling with an inconceivable velocity, possessed of stupendous power. Jacob saw them ascending and descending upon a ladder, spanning the space between heaven and earth. He did not behold them moving about in an instant, everywhere at once; there was the appearance of a material communication, just such as beings with bodies would require. To delineate purely spiritual creatures as ascending and descending upon a ladder would be an absurdity. The introduction of a ladder into the patriarch's dream is an intimation that the angels, though vastly more glorious than men, are yet utterly unlike God in their nature; that they are not, in short, quite free from the burden of matter. And it may be that higher truths still are taught by the erection of that mystic ladder, whose foot was upon the ground, and its top reaching unto heaven. We cannot wholly dissever the text from a remarkable speech of our blessed Lord. "Hereafter," said Christ, "shall ye see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." The Redeemer Himself steps forward as the interpreter of Jacob's dream, and represents Himself as fulfilling the type of the ladder which arrested the patriarch's gaze. And it is not hard to understand how this may be. For is it not through Christ, and for His merits, that the communication between man and God was not quite cut off at Adam's fall? Was it not for Christ's sake alone that the Almighty did not utterly excommunicate the race of men, and shut up His compassions from them? Indeed, indeed, if there has been angelic guardianship extended to the saints, if the seraphim and cherubim have busied themselves with this lower world, it has only been because Christ Jesus has vouchsafed to take our nature upon Him. He has been the Way. As none of us can come to the Father save by Him, so neither angel nor archangel can visit us save by Him.

(Bishop Woodford.)

Do you think the idea of the Incarnation too aerial and speculative to carry with you for help in rough, practical matters? The Incarnation is not a mere idea, but a fact as substantial and solidly rooted in life as anything you have to do with. Even the shadow of it Jacob saw carried in it so much of what was real that when he was broad awake he trusted it and acted on it. It was not scattered by the chill of the morning air, nor by that fixed staring reality which external nature assumes in the grey dawn as one object after another shows itself in the same spot and form in which night had fallen upon it. There were no angels visible when he opened his eyes; the staircase was there, but it was of no heavenly substance, and if it had any secret to tell, it coldly and darkly kept it. There was no retreat for the runaway from the poor common facts of yesterday. The sky seemed as far from earth as it did yesterday, his tract over the hills as lonely, his brother's wrath as real; but other things also had become real; and as he looked back from the top of the hill on the stone he had set up, he felt the words, "I am with thee in all places whither thou goest," graven on his heart, and giving him new courage; and he knew that every footfall of his was making a Bethel, and that as he went he was carrying God through the world. The bleakest rain that swept across the hills of Bethel could never wash out of his mind the vision of bright-winged angels, as little as they could wash off the oil or wear down the stone he had set up. The brightest glare of this world's heyday of real life could not outshine and cause them to disappear; and the vision on which we hope is not one that vanishes at cock-crow, nor is He who connects us with God shy of human handling, but substantial as ourselves.

(M. Doris, D. D.)

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