Genesis 32:28
Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel. Twenty years before Jacob learned at Bethel to know God as a living and present Protector. This a great step in spiritual life; belief of God in heaven, becoming consciousness of God "in this place," guiding all events. It is the first step towards walking with God. But his training not yet complete. Truth is usually grasped by degrees. Unbelief, cast out, returns in new forms and under new pretences. A common mistake at beginning of Christian life is to think that the battle is at an end when decision made. The soul may have passed from death to life; but much still to be done, much to be learned. Many a young Christian little knows the weakness of his faith. During these years Jacob shows real faith, but not perfect reliance (Genesis 30:37; Genesis 31:20). Returning home greatly enriched, he heard of Esau at hand. He feared his anger. No help in man; God's promise his only refuge. Could he trust to it? His wrestling. We cannot picture its outward form; but its essence a spiritual struggle. His endurance tried by bodily infirmity (cf. Job 2:5) and by the apparent unwillingness of the Being with whom he strove (cf. Matthew 15:26). His answer showed determination (cf. 2 Kings 4:30). This prevailed; weak as he was, he received the blessing (cf. Hebrews 11:34). And the new name was the sign of his victory (cf. Matthew 21:22; 1 John 5:4).

I. THE STRUGGLE. Why thus protracted? It was not merely a prolonged prayer, like Luke 6:12. There was some hindrance to be overcome (cf. Matthew 11:12); not by muscular force, but by earnest supplication. Where Scripture is silent we must speak cautiously. But probable explanation is the state of Jacob's own mind. Hitherto faith had been mixed with faithlessness; belief in the promise with hesitation to commit the means to God. Against this divided mind (James 1:8) the Lord contended. No peace while this remained (cf. Isaiah 26:3). And the lesson of that night was to trust God's promise entirely (cf. Psalm 37:3). When this was learned the wrestling of the Spirit against the double mind was at an end. Such a struggle may be going on in the hearts of some here. A craving for peace, yet a restless disquiet. The gospel believed, yet failing to bring comfort. Prayer for peace apparently unanswered, so that there seemed to be some power contending against us. Why is this? Most probably from failing to commit all to God. Perhaps requiring some sign (John 20:25), some particular state of feeling, or change of disposition; perhaps looking for faith within as the ground of trust; perhaps choosing the particular blessing - self-will as to the morsel of the bread of life to satisfy us, instead of taking every word of God. There is the evil. It is against self thou must strive. Behold thy loving Savior; will he fail thee in the hour of need? Tell all to him; commit thyself into his hands; not once or twice, but habitually.

II. THE NEW NAME (Cf. Revelation 3:12). No more Jacob, the crafty, but Israel, God's prince (cf. Revelation 1:6). The token of victory over distrust, self-will, self-confidence. In knowledge of poverty is wealth (Matthew 5:3); in knowledge of weakness, strength (2 Corinthians 12:10). That name is offered to all. The means, persevering prayer; but prayer not to force our will upon God, but that trust may be so entire that our wills may in all things embrace his. - M.







And He said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
Some surprise may be felt at first at the term prince being applied to the patriarch Jacob; for whatever good qualities distinguish his character, we hardly regard him as possessing princely ones. He has the quiet virtues of resignation, meekness and caution, but we hardly attribute to him that spirit and mettle, that vigorous temper and fire, which belong to the princely character. Yet when we consider Jacob we find that he had virtues which lie at the foundation of the royal and grand form of human character.

I. His patience was a princely virtue. How patiently he bore the long delays in Laban's service I the plots of his sons, Simeon and Levi! We sometimes think of patience as the virtue of the weak, the sufferer, the inferior. Yet a great prime minister of England, when asked what was the most important virtue for a prime minister, gave this answer, "Patience is the first, patience is the second, patience is the third."

II. Hopefulness was another of Jacob's regal virtues. He looked forward with trust and confidence to the future; he believed firmly in God's promises. His was a religious spirit; the religious mind is sustained by hope. "I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord," he says in his last address, when he summed up the purpose of his life. He had waited, but never ceased to hope; the Divine reward had always been before him.

III. But it was in prayer specially that Jacob showed his princely character. What a nobility is attributed to prayer in this episode of Jacob's life! What a description the text gives us of the royal attributes of prayer that it sets in motion the sovereign agency which settles all human events!

(J. B. Mozley, D. D.)

I. The very twofold name of Jacob and of Israel is but the symbol of the blending of contradictions in Jacob's character. A strange paradox — the hero of faith, and the quick, sharp-witted schemer.

II. The character of Jacob is a form which is to be found among the Gentiles no less than among the Jews. There are in our days prudential vices, marring what would otherwise be worthy of all praise. And that which makes them most formidable is that they are the cleaving, besetting temptations of the religious temperament.

1. Untruthfulness — the want of perfect sincerity and frankness.

2. Thinking much of ease and comfort, and shrinking from hardship and danger.

III. The religious temperament, with all its faults, may pass into the the matured holiness of him who is not religious only, but godly. How the work is to be clone "thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter," when thou too hast wrestled with the angel and hast become a prince with God.

(Dean Plumptre.)

I. EVERY SOUL NEEDS THE NEW NAME.

II. EVERYONE MAY HAVE THE NEW NAME.

III. EVERY ONE MUST SECURE THE NEW NAME AS JACOB HAD.

1. By repentance.

2. By faith.

(T. J. Holmes.)

I. THE SYMBOL OF THE NEW LIFE. He was no longer to be called Jacob, but Israel. In this change of name was intimated an entire change of character. He was sent back in recollection over the years to the time when he had been a wicked man; and then he was sent forward in anticipation across the years, under the command that he should begin a fresh career. From that night onward, he was to leave off his worldly cunning, and surrender his craft. He must become a new man, and, above all, a true man. His early and continuous sins might now be forgiven; but he must lead an altered life.

II. THE REACH TO WHICH THIS NEW LIFE EXTENDS.

1. When once a believer is truly in Christ, his standing with God is entirely changed. Every barrier is broken down. God's displeasure is over, and man's enmity is ended.

2. Not only in state but in character is the true believer a new man. If he be in Christ, he will grow assuredly to resemble Christ.

3. The new creation of a believer in Christ extends even to his experience, as well as to his state and character.

(1)Confidence.

(2)Freedom.

(3)Contentment.

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

I. THAT GOD MANIFESTS HIMSELF FOE THE COMFORT AND PROTECTION OF THOSE WHO TRUST IN HIM ACCORDING TO THEIR NEED (2 Kings 6:17; Psalm 46:1; Acts 27:23, 24).

II. WHAT COWARDS A GUILTY CONSCIENCE MAKES OF US ALL.

III. THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF PRAYER. Mark:

1. The kind forbearance and long-suffering patience of God.

2. The purpose of God concerning us.

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

I. WHAT THIS POWER CANNOT BE.

1. Cannot be physical force.

2. Cannot be mental energy.

3. Cannot be magical.

4. Cannot be meritorious.

5. Cannot be independent.

II. WHENCE THIS POWER PROCEEDS.

1. It arises from the Lord's nature. His goodness and tenderness are excited by the sight of our sorrow and weakness.

2. It comes out of God's promise (Isaiah 43:26).

3. It springs out of the relationships of grace.

4. It grows out of the Lord's previous acts. Each blessing draws on another, like links of a chain.

III. How CAN IT BE EXERCISED.

1. There must be a deep sense of weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10).

2. There must be simple faith in the goodness of the Lord (John 14:12).

3. There must be earnest obedience to His will (John 9:31).

4. There must be fixed resolve (ver. 26).

5. With this must be blended importunity (ver. 24).

6. The whole heart must be poured out (Hosea 12:4).

7. Increased weakness must not make us cease (Isaiah 33:23).

IV. To WHAT USE THIS POWER MAY BE TURNED.

1. For ourselves.

(1)For our own deliverance from special trial.

(2)An honourable preferment.

(3)Our future comfort, strength, and growth, when, like Jacob, we are called to successive trials.

2. For others. Jacob's wives and children were preserved, and Esau's heart was softened. If we had more power with God, we should have a happier influence among our relatives.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

What is power with God? Knowledge of God in Christ, as revealed in the Scriptures, forms the basis of all power with God.

I. How DID JACOB OBTAIN THIS KNOWLEDGE OF GOD? In two ways —

1. By the instrumentality of pious parents. Isaac and Rebecca were the most Godly couple of the Old Testament families. They taught Jacob the first principles of, and the parental character of God; His wisdom, love, and power.

2. By a direct revelation of God's loving kindness to him in a time of great distress.

II. POWER WITH GOD IS THE RIGHT APPLICATION OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IN CHRIST AT THE RIGHT TIME, IN THE USE OF RIGHT MEANS TO ACCOMPLISH THE RIGHT END.

1. A crisis in the life of Jacob had arrived. A fearful episode in his life is revealed in the words, "And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother," &c. (Genesis 32:3, 4, 5, 6). Jacob wisely flies to God in prayer. In this crisis he makes a right application of his knowledge.

2. Jacob uses successful means to appease his brother's wrath. Knowledge of God in the Covenant of Grace by Jesus Christ, contains the knowledge of man. The greater includes the less.

3. Jacob uses the right means to secure the blessing of God. Power with God is knowledge of God applied by faith until the end is accomplished.

(J. Brewster.)

Both the letter and spirit of the text suggest this general observation:

I. THAT IT IS THE DESIGN OF PRAYER TO MOVE GOD TO BESTOW MERCY. This will appear if we consider —

1. That prayer properly and essentially consists in pleading. Though it may be divided into distinct parts or branches, yet all these ultimately unite and centre in supplication. In adoration, confession, petition, and thanksgiving, we ultimately plead for Divine mercy.

2. It appears from the prayers of good men, which are recorded in scripture, that they meant to move God to grant their petitions.

3. The friends of God are urged to pray with fervency and importunity, in order to make the Divine compassion.

4. That the prayers of good men have actually prevailed upon God to grant great and signal favours.

II. But now some may be ready to ask, How CAN THIS BE? How can prayer have the least influence to move the heart of God, who is of one mind, and with whom there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning?

1. Here we ought to consider, in the first place, that the prayers of good men are proper reasons why an infinitely wise and good being should grant their requests.

2. We ought to consider, in the next place, that though God formed all his purposes from eternity, yet he formed them in the view of all the pious petitions which should ever be presented to Him, and gave to these petitions all the weight that they deserved, in fixing his determinations.

3. This leads us, in the last place, to consider pious prayers as the proper means of bringing about the events with which they are connected in the Divine purpose. Though God is able to work without means, yet He has been pleased to adopt means into His plan of operation.

III. IMPROVEMENT.

1. If it be the design of prayer to move God to bestow temporal and spiritual favours, then there is a propriety in praying for others, as well as for ourselves.

2. We are led to conclude from what has been said upon this subject, that we have as fair an opportunity Of obtaining Divine favours, as if God were to form His determinations at the time we present our petitions. For God has determined, from eternity, to hear every prayer that ought to be heard.

3. We learn the propriety of praying for future, as well as for present blessings.

4. It appears from what has been said, that saints are in a safe and happy condition. They enjoy the benefit of the prayers of all the people of God.

5. This subject may remind sinners of what they haw to fear from the prayers of saints. Their united supplications for the honour of God, the accomplishment of His designs, and the overthrow of all His incorrigible enemies, forebode terrible and eternal evils to impenitent sinners.

6. Since prayer has such a prevailing influence upon the heart of the Deity, saints have great encouragement to abound in this duty. They are formed for this devout and holy exercise. Having become the children of God, they possess the spirit of adoption, which is the spirit of grace and supplication.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

He is asking us to-day as He asked Jacob, "What is thy name?" For when God asks, "What is thy name?" He means, "What is it that lies behind the name, that is really thee?" And Jacob had grace and honesty at last to own up and say, "Oh, unknown wrestler! my name is trick and quirk and cunning. My name is Jacob. My name is craft, my name is cunning." He owned up at last: "I am of the earth, earthy. My name is Jacob — Supplanter." My brother, what is your name? After bearing a Christian profession; after, it may be, being an office-bearer in God's house for twenty or forty years, the great God with whom we have to do comes in mercy to-day simply because perhaps we are soon to get to heaven, and we need a lot to make us ready; we need a lot yet to make us ready. God has to come to you this morning with my lips, and says: "What is thy name?" If you tell the truth you will say: "My name is Jacob." You will say, "My name is money, my name is cent. per cent., my name is profit-my very name is that, O God. My name is moderation and religion. O God, dost Thou ask my name? My name is lust. Right down at bottom that wriggling thing is me My name is lust, uncleanness, vileness. I have kept it in; I have veneered it over; but I admit to-day that, that is me. This is the one thing in me. It is my name." "What is thy name? What is at bottom in us, that is us? What is it? " How few of us can say honestly, "My name, O God, is religion; my name is settled principle; my name is candour, openness, honesty, sincerity. My name is singleness of heart, childlike simplicity." What is our name? I cannot give all the names. It is not the actual Johns and Roberts that were named over us here in baptism. Jacob's name was a name of significance; and God gives us all a significant name, and He is asking us to-day, "What is your name? What is it?" Oh, let us be honest and tell Him. I know mine. You could stand up in this church, and in one sentence could tell this meeting what "is your prevailing characteristic. Young girl, young woman, you can stand up before God and say, "My name is frivolity. That is nay prevailing characteristic. I come to church on Sunday, but the thing that engrosses and consumes me is a ball and a dance and the theatre. That is my name. That sets my whole soul abounding and a-pulsing." With some of us, our whole creed is just a determination not to yield ourselves utterly unto God, but to keep on the safe side. What is your name? Ananias is the name for some, and Sapphira is the true name for others. It was not a nice name. It may be that Jacob's swarthy cheek got a little swarthier even in the darkness, as he said, "Supplanter is my name. I am a wrestler, I depend on cunning, I call on God even occasionally, to help my cunning. I use religion for a cloak for my cunning." My name, in Thy sight, and with shame I confess it, my name is double-tongue, or facing-both-ways.

(J. McNeill.)

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE EVENT. It will occur to our recollection that, after the intimation of Esau's approach, Jacob had almost immediately addressed himself to the duty of prayer, and that he had earnestly sought deliverance from the threatening danger; but he had as yet received no favourable answer. He remained still in suspense, and in the anxious exercise of faith upon the promise of his Divine protector. His previous experience seems to have consecrated to him the shades of night. It was during the night that God appeared to him at Bethel. It was in a dream at night that he received the instruction to depart from Syria. A degree of obscurity hangs over the passage, from the difficulty of affixing a meaning satisfactorily to the word which we translate wrestled, and which implies intense occupation and effort; yet upon the whole, the general statement seems to render it unequivocal, that on this occasion a bodily struggle did actually take place. It was, however, at the same time, a contest in which the chief interest lay in the spiritual blessing to be obtained. The external effort for victory was evidently in Jacob's mind intimately associated with the deliverance that he was then seeking by prayer. And with the external wrestling to detain this nocturnal visitant, Jacob still continued the ardent pleading of his soul for the indulgence of his request. Jacob evidently regarded them as being one and the same. And the prophet Hosea confirms this view of the case when he tells us (in chap. Hosea 12.) that "Jacob had power over the angel and prevailed"; that "he wept and made supplication unto him"; a passage which brings the spiritual object prominently forward, and excludes the idea of a contention of mere muscular strength. Probably the appearance of a human form, on these occasions of revelation, was at this time new to Jacob. It appears, however, to have given him a peculiar encouragement. Where was the created frame that would not instantly crumble into its original nothingness, if, for one instant, it was placed in the attitude of resistance against Him who is "a consuming fire?" But the terrors of the Godhead were veiled in humanity. It was a man that appeared to Jacob. The sequel of the history ascertains, beyond a doubt, the Divine character of the person who appeared to Jacob.

II. THE DOCTRINE WHICH WE MAY GATHER FROM IT. Viewed in this light, the doctrine which this event inculcates on the Church of God is — the permitted prevalency of the prayer of man with God, through the mystery of the incarnation of His eternal Son.

III. THE DUTIES WHICH THIS EVENT INCULCATES.

1. It teaches gratitude. It becomes us to be thankful. It is indeed an unspeakable mercy that God has vouchsafed to provide so graciously for the approach of our guilty race to Himself.

2. A second duty inculcated by this event is humility. If you know yourselves you will be ashamed of the history of your closets; and many an humbling memento will teach you that if ever you prevailed at the throne of God, it was not because you were worthy, but because that throne was the throne of grace.

3. Observe, thirdly, the duty which this passage inculcates of seeking God earnestly. It is vain to offer to God that listless, heartless service, which too frequently constitutes the whole of a Christian's devotions.

4. Learn, fourthly, the duty of persevering importunity in prayer.

5. But, lastly, a word is due to those who have never yet thought seriously of prayer. How energetically a case like this speaks to you.

(E. Craig.)

Before this time, he had been Jacob, the worker with wiles, who supplanted his brother, and met his foes with duplicity and astuteness like their own. He had been mainly of the earth, earthy. But that solemn hour had led him into the presence chamber, the old craft had been mortally wounded, he had seen some glimpse of God as his friend, whose presence was not "awful," as he had thought it long ago, nor enigmatical and threatening, as he had at first deemed it that night, but the fountain of blessing, and the one thing needful. A man who has once learned that lesson, though imperfectly, has passed into a purer region, and left behind him his old crookednesses. He has learned to pray, not as before, prayers for mere deliverance from Esau and the like, but his whole being has gone out in yearning for the continual nearness of his mysterious antagonist — friend. So, though still the old nature remains, its power is broken, and he is a new creature. Therefore he needs a new name, and gets it from Him who can name men, because He sees the heart's depths, and because He has the right over them. To impose a name is the sign of authority, possession, insight into character. The change of name indicates a new epoch in a life, or a transformation of the inner man. The meaning of "Israel" is "He (who) strives with God"; and the reason for its being conferred is more accurately given by the Revised version, which translates, "For thou hast striven with God and with men," than in the Authorized rendering. His victory with God involved the certainty of his power with men. All his life he had been trying to get the advantage of them, and to conquer them, not by spear and sword, but by his brains. But now the true way to true sway among men is opened to him. All men are the servants of the servant and the friend of God. He who has the ear of the emperor is master of many men. Jacob is not always called Israel in his subsequent history. His new name was a name of character and of spiritual standing, and that might fluctuate, and the old self resume its power; so he is still called by the former appellation, just as, at certain points in his life, the apostle forfeits the right to be "Peter," and has to hear from Christ's lips the old name, the use of which is more poignant than many reproachful words — "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you." But in the last death-bed scene, when the patriarch lifted himself in his bed, and with prophetic dignity pronounced his parting benediction on Joseph's sons, the new name re-appears with solemn pathos. That name was transmitted to his descendants, and has passed over to the company of believing men, who have been overcome by God, and have prevailed with God. It is a charter and a promise. It is a stringent reminder of duty and a lofty ideal. A true Christian is an "Israel." His office is to wrestle with God.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Jacob, though a man, a single man, a travelling man, a tired man, yea, though a worm, that is easily crushed and trodden under foot, and no man (Isaiah 41:14), yet in private prayer he is so potent that he overcomes the Omnipotent God; he is so mighty, that he overcomes the Almighty.

( Thomas Brooks..)

A stern father has been conquered by a tear in the eye of his daughter. An unwilling heart has relented and bestowed an alms at the sight of the disappointment caused by a refusal. Sorrow constrains to pity. When importunity takes the hand of grief, and the two go together to the gate of mercy, it opens of its own accord. Sincerity, earnestness, perseverance, confidence, and expectancy are all potent instruments of power with God.

How often have I seen a little child throw its arms around its father's neck, and win, by kisses and importunities and tears, what had else been refused. Who has not yielded to importunity, even when a dumb animal looked up in our face with suppliant eyes for food? Is God less pitiful than we?

(T. Guthrie.)

In a certain town (says the Rev. Mr. Finney), there had been no revival for many years; the church was nearly run out, the youth were all unconverted, and desolation reigned unbroken. There lived in a retired part of the town an aged man, a blacksmith by trade, and of so stammering a tongue that it was painful to hear him speak. On one Friday, as he was at work in his shop alone, his mind became greatly exercised about the state of the church, and of the impenitent. His agony became so great that he was induced to lay aside his work, lock the shop door, and spend the afternoon in prayer. He prevailed, and on the Sabbath called in the minister and desired him to appoint a conference meeting. After some hesitation, the minister consented, observing, however, that he feared but few would attend. He appointed it the same evening, at a large private house. When evening came, more assembled than could be accommodated in the house. All were silent for a time, until one sinner broke out in tears, and said, if any one could pray, he begged him to pray for him. Another followed, and another, and still another, until it was found that persons from every quarter of the town were under deep convictions. And what was remarkable, was that they all dated their conviction at the hour when the old man was praying in his shop. A powerful revival followed. Then this old stammering man prevailed, and as a prince, had power with God.

The mightiest man on earth is the man who has most power with God. For God is almighty, and man is omnipotent for the accomplishment of His purpose when he has the promise of all needed help from the Most High. The hiding of the power which determines the destiny of nations is not in the cabinets of kings or the heavy battalions of war, but in the closets of praying men, who have been raised by faith to the exalted rank of princes with God. The conflict which gained the greatest victory for Scotland, and gave her such freedom and intelligence as she enjoys to-day, did not originate in Holyrood Palace, nor was it waged upon the high places of the field, but in the solitary chamber of the man who prayed all night, crying in the agony and desperation of faith, "Give me Scotland or I die."

(D. March, D. D.)

I. THE CONFLICT, AND —

II. ITS RESULT. "Thou hast power with God," said He who had wrestled the whole night with Jacob. Unequal conflict! God against man! Unheard of, incredible result! The man overcomes! Jacob now learnt with whom he had had to do — not with a foe, but with his best Friend. How is the soul astonished, when at the end of the darkest paths, in which it was inclined to think that God had in wrath forgotten to be merciful, and to say, "Is His mercy clean gone for ever?" it perceives in these very paths the most striking condescension of the Lord, and the greatest kindness in a guidance which seemed only to aim at its destruction. Then indeed a wonderful and glorious morning dawns. He wrestled with God. God, therefore, seemed in some respects not to be for him, but against him. God seemed not to be for him; for why was it otherwise with him with regard to Esau than it had been with regard to Laban? Why did fear obtain such possession of his mind without his being able to defend himself against it? Why did it not depart at his humble prayer and thanksgiving? If God intended to do him good, why did tie expose him to so much danger — and he at the same time so defenceless? If He loved him, why did He ask him to let Him go? And why did He put him so entirely to shame?. The Lord, however, seemed to be entirely against Jacob; against him with words; for He must have said bitter things to him, otherwise why did he weep, as Hosed informs us? He must have reproached, reproved, rejected, and threatened him; otherwise why did he entreat Him? It did not rest in mere words: actions are added to them. He increases Jacob's distress by wrestling with him, and that so violently that Jacob, according to the expression of Hosea, is obliged to resist with all his might. He chooses for this purpose the night, a season the most appalling of all; and the period when Jacob's distress had, besides that, reached a terrific height, and when his fear was great. By the dislocation of his thigh He deprived him of all strength, and rendered it impossible for him to continue the conflict, although the ceasing from it was equally impossible. He caused him pain. He casts him, as it were, defenceless before his enemy by making escape impracticable. Jacob therefore found it necessary to defend himself, and to strive against his adversary, be He who He might. And the Lord bears him witness that he had struggled with God and had prevailed. With God? How wonderful! What!-does God act in such a manner with men? Does He so degrade Himself as to wrestle with a man — as man against man? It is not credible! Not credible? Thou shalt see still greater and more unaccountable things than these. How wilt thou believe the latter if the former are incredible to thee? Go to Bethlehem; there thou wilt find Him lying in a manger as a little needy infant. Go to Jerusalem; there thou wilt see Him in the hands of the wicked, who nail Him to the cross; there thou wilt behold Him crucified between two malefactors, hear Him complain of being forsaken of God, see Him die, and witness His interment. What sayest thou to these astonishing mysteries? If thou canst not believe the less, how will it be with the greater? Jacob wrestled with God first with the exertion of all his powers, in the most determined struggle, as long as he felt any power in himself; but this only served to convince him that we do not gain the prize by our own efforts and that the kingdom of peace is not taken by violence. This mode of wrestling was rendered impracticable to him since he was deprived of the requisite power for it by the dislocation of his thigh. The conflict was now obliged to be continued in an entirely different manner — that is, by a passive conduct which the circumstances pointed out. The paralyzed combatant had no alternative than that of casting himself into the arms of Him who had thus disabled him, and, instead of exerting himself, to let himself be carried; in other words — instead of caring for himself, to cast his burden upon the Lord — to believe, and to turn from the law to the gospel. But why did God enter into such a conflict with Jacob?

1. Because it pleased Him.

2. To give a particular proof of His condescension, how minutely He concerns Himself about His people.

3. It serves also as a representation to others of the ways by which the Lord may lead them in a similar manner to Jacob. It is true the Lord will scarcely think it needful to enter into a bodily conflict with any one, although He is able, and really does, exercise His children by temporal occurrences. There are instances in which, from the time the individual was converted to God success no longer attends him, but sicknesses or misfortunes befal himself or his family; nay, it may even be the case that he himself is deprived of his natural ability to take charge of his affairs, and they fall into confusion, however much he may exert himself and however cautiously he may act, so that even in natural things he is put to shame. Generally speaking, those to whom the Lord is willing to manifest Himself more intimately, as He did to Jacob, experience many trials and much adversity for a period; and at length an Esau stands in their way who threatens them with destruction — nay, not only an Esau, but the Lord Himself. They are brought low in themselves that the Lord may be magnified. They desire to be holy, strong, righteous, wise, believing, and good; they pray and labour as much as possible; but instead of advancing forward they go back. They increasingly exert themselves like Jacob, but only dislocate their limbs the more. Whatever they lay hold of eludes their grasp; what they seek they do not obtain. Jesus makes sinners of them without mercy, and their sin appears extremely sinful to them by means of the commandment, however much they may moan and groan on account of it. At length their very hip is dislocated; they can no longer maintain their former footing, and nothing is left them but to yield themselves to the Son of God at discretion, and creep, as chickens, under His expanded wings. O glorious result, but highly disagreeable path to nature, to which nothing is left, and to which nothing ought to be left! Here it is manifest that the mystery of godliness is great. But what was the result of the conflict? It is described in the unparalleled words, "Thou hast had power with God, and hast prevailed." Jacob therefore, gained the victory over God; nay, he gained it of necessity. And why? God could not strive with him as the Almighty, or as the Holy One, because He had bound His own hands by His truth and by His promise, "I will do thee good." God had rendered it impossible for Him to strive with Jacob in such a manner as would have resulted in his ruin. This would have been at complete variance with His truth, the thoughts of peace He had towards him, and with the whole contents of the covenant of grace, as well as the spiritual espousals of the Lord with His Church. He could, therefore, only strive against him in love, and do him no further injury than the glory of God and Jacob's salvation necessarily required. Under these circumstances, therefore, Jacob could not fail to succeed. He saves sinners and justifies the ungodly. Now, since He has said this Himself, He cannot treat those who are sinners and ungodly in any other manner. "As a prince thou hast had power with God." Wherein consisted his princely conduct? He was sincere, and did not wish to appear before God better than he really was. He confessed his sins by frankly owning that he was afraid. He believed the word which the Lord had spoken.

(D. C. Krummacher.)

I. Jacob had at Penuel the mystery of his past life interpreted to him. His miseries and hardships were in consequence of his mingling fraud and treachery with his Divinely-ordered destiny. Had he never fallen into crooked ways, he had never halted on his thigh.

II. Jacob had at Peniel the secret of true life interpreted to him. An attitude of supplication and submission, rather than resistance. Human ends are best achieved by Divine assistance.

III. Jacob at Penuel had the highest type of human life revealed to him. He feels himself brought into more immediate personal relations with God at Peniel, than when visited by the Angels of God at Bethel So higher subjects occupy his thoughts. And his desires are now elevated and enlarged.

(W. Roberts.)

There is one result of this change of name, which is familiar to us all, and will continue to the end of time: the descendants of the patriarch Jacob became known as the Children of Israel. My text, in this connection, shows the origin of the change. Jacob was a man of prayer. It was good for him to draw near to God; and surely God drew near to him this memorable night. In the likeness of a man He approached, "and wrestled with Jacob until the breaking of the day." It was an age of figures and emblems; things physical were used to denote things spiritual; and doubtless, in this midnight conflict, Jacob's prayerfulness was tried. And how does he stand the test? The Divine wrestler prevailed not against him Jacob's faith was not weakened by the protraction of the struggle. Here is a model for us — a model of closeness of communion, of unwavering confidence, of pious importunity in prayer. And if a model, what an encouragement! The change of name. Observe his first name — Jacob. This is a word which conveys no favourable omen; it means "supplanter" — "one taking hold of the heel" — "a layer of snares." It suggests a very faulty character. A man who is ready to descend to petty shifts and crafty stratagems, in order to gain some personal advantage, can never be ranked with the loftiest of his fellows. Jacob, the supplanter does not show to advantage besides Daniel, or beside his own son, Joseph. But now observe his second name Israel. What a difference of meaning — "a prince of God." The difference between the two names is immense; so that it is difficult to imagine how both could belong to one man. For here is a prince of loftiest creation — other titles are bestowed by earthly sovereigns, but this by the King of kings.

1. It is a title implying the loftiest service. Some royal commissions are of doubtful dignity, but this is given by One "glorious in holiness."

2. It implies the loftiest communion. A prince has access to the throne at times when others are debarred. A "prince of God" is one who holds intimate fellowship with Jehovah.

3. It implies, also, the loftiest influence. All ranks look up to the prince. So, O Israel, shall all people look up to thee. And why this change? It was the reward of faith in God; "as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." The blessing Isaac gave him, he got by fraud; but this which God gives him, he got by faith. Brother, what is your first name? What does God call you in your unregenerate state? Names that you might well blush to bear; names that your natural pride can hardly tolerate to listen to; names which often perhaps awake your anger and your enmity! Listen! for it is God that speaks. He calls you names of complaint, of reproach, of threatening. He calls you unmindful, unjust, ungrateful; calls you foolish, depraved, corrupt; earthly, sensual, devilish; a child of wrath and heir of perdition. These, and such as these, are the names you bear. And, O my brother! these names are more than names — they denote facts; they express realities! What complacency can you have, then, in your degenerate state? how bear to reflect on the being that you arc? One might fancy that Jacob never thought on the meaning of his first name without being ashamed! and can you think of the names that belong to you without burning shame? But is it not possible to change your name? Must you always go about with the brand on your brow? Read this sacred book and see! Here I find the record of not a few whose names God changed. And the change — O how marvellous! They were sinners against God — now they are called Saints of God. They were condemned — but are now justified; pronounced guilty — but are now declared righteous. They were once rebels — they are now subjects, servants, friends. "They are called God's people, that were not God's people; and those beloved, that were not beloved." Nay, brethren, there are dearer titles still — titles which admit them into God's family, and permit them to share His glory. And it is no mockery to say that these are given to the same persons who once bore those hard and repellent names. The monarch's sword has been ]aid on the shoulder — or rather, instead of the sword, the "golden sceptre" of Divine favour; and the name has been declared changed. Down, child of wrath — Rise, child of God! Down, heir of perdition — Rise, heir of heaven! It is this that has moved the wonder and fired the praise of multitudes gone before us. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God." "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." How has this change been brought about? By faith in God! Taking Him at His word — meeting Him as He approaches — laying hold of His strength — and resolving not to let Him go until He bless you!

(F. Tucker, B. A.)

There is no such thing as interpreting the will of God unless we have in us the spirit of children. What is the spirit of children? Love — confidence. If a man comes to the interpretation of adverse or of fortunate events in the spirit of pride, he will never know their meaning: God locks up His best blessings, but gives to every man a key wherewith to open the lock. One man takes his key, and goes up to the lock and tries to unlock it; but his key will not fit; it will not go in, because it is pride that he has been trying to unlock with. Another man says, "Let me try my key." He takes vanity; but he finds that vanity will not unlock the door of Divine Providence and reveal the secrets that are within. Another man comes up with the key of wilful selfishness. His key is three times as big as the keyhole, and he can't get in. They all fail to unlock the door, and go away. By and by another man comes. He puts his key to the lock, it slides in; there is not a ward that it does not touch; the bolt slides back without a sound, and the door swings open. He knows the secret. He comes in the spirit of love, obedience, and resignation, and to him God's will is revealed. Pride could not open the door; vanity could not open it; selfishness could not open it: love could open it.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Ah! young men, what power you have! I remember reading in a fairy-tale that a whole city was in one night changed into stone. There stood a war horse, with nostrils distended, caparisoned for the battle. There stood the warrior, with his stone hand on the cold mane of that petrified horse. All is still, lifeless, death-like, silent. Then the trumpet's blast is heard ringing through the clear atmosphere; the warrior leaps upon his steed; the horse utters the war-neigh, and starts forth to battle; and the warrior, with his lance in rest, rides on to victory. Now, young men, put the trumpet to your lips, blow a blast that shall wake the dead stocks and stones, and on, on — upward to victory over all evil habits and evil influences surrounding you.

(J. B. Gough.)

A little more than two centuries ago a thoroughly devoted English minister was full of anxiety in view of the dangers that threatened many of the seamen who belonged to his parish. They were about to engage in a fearful battle with the French, and be exposed to all the perils of the fight. His heart yearning over them, he calls together his people, and appoints a day of fasting and prayer, that the shield of the Almighty might be thrown before them in the day of battle. It is said the good man wrestled in prayer as in an agony, that the seamen might be preserved in the hour of danger. When the battle was over, it was found that John Flavel too had wrestled with the angel; that he was a prince with God, and had prevailed. His prayers were a wall of defence round about those for whom he pleaded. Not a single sailor from Dartmouth was lost, though many of them were in the hottest of the fight. If the real history of many a soldier in our fearful civil war were written, it would doubtless be found that he came forth unscathed because defended by the believing prayers of a Christian wife, mother, or sister.

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