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then was he not true to his trust? Did he merely learn the intention of Esau by overhearing him speaking to himself? In every light the thing is overruled by Providence. What a consolation does this afford to the Lord's people, when they are threatened in life or property. God by his Provi. dence discovered and disappointed the murderous intention of Esau, even though the conduct of Israel, in provoking the wrath of his brother, was greatly to be blamed. Shall not the Lord be the protector of his people, when by obedience to his will they subject themselves and fortunes to danger? The wicked are not permitted to execute the thousandth part of the mischief which they design against the Lord's people. His Providence watches over his children, and in due season manifests the plots of their enemies, or in one way or other prevents their execution.
In this wicked purpose of Esau, we see the hand of Divine Providence also, in sending Israel to the land of his fathers, where God had provided for him a wife; and where his life, in the house of Laban, might afford a fit emblem of Jesus, of whom this man of sorrows was an eminent type. Afflictive dispensations of Providence are designed for the good of the Lord's people, as well as events that are direct blessings. All things work together for good to them who love God, and are called according to his purpose.
JACOB'S IMMEDIATE MEETING WITH RACHEL ON HIS
APPROACH TO HARAN-Gen. xxix.
Jacob was a distinguished type of Christ, and many points of resemblance present themselves to our view in bis history. Among these the following are striking :—He was sent by his father to a distant country to seek a wife.“ And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel, thy mother's father, and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban, thy mother's brother." And Jesus came from heaven to espouse his bride—the Lamb's wife_bone of his bone, and flesh of his Aesh. On his journey, Jacob slept in the open air, and made the stones of Bethel his pillow. And Jesus, who was Lord of the universe, appeared on earth in the most destitute circumstances. While the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, the Son of man -had not where to lay his head. All these points. of resemblance were providential, resulting naturally from the situation in which Jacob was placed. The wisdom of man could discover in them no designed illustration of future events. But the Ruler of the world can direct the most trifling and seeniingly fortuitous events, to serve his own glorious purposes. Jacob was as truly adapted to shadow the
Saviour in the lowliest parts of his humiliation, ils Solomon was in the highest glory of his exaltation.
The Providence of God directing the journey of Jacob is strikingly impressed on our notice, on bis approach to Haran. By what compass he steered through the deserts that lay in his way, by what information he arrived in the neighbourhood of Haran, we are not told. But, however he was directed, one thing we see, he did not miss his way. Without any difficulty he lights at once on the people whom he sought.
66 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east. And he looked, and, behold, a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks.” Here he is led by Providence to the point of destination as directly as were the wise men of the east by the star which pointed to the house in Bethlehem in which the Saviour was born. At the moment of his arrival, there were three flocks of sheep lying by the well. This was providential, for had he arrived at a time when all the flocks were at pasture, he would have missed the shepherds of Haran. Throughout all the hours of the light of day, why was it that he happened to come to this spot at the time when the flocks were lying by the well ? The thing appears to be marked still more particularly as a fact in Providence. By what Jacob afterwards says to the shepherds, (verse 7) it appears that it was rather early for the flocks to come to water, and Rachel's flock had not then arrived. Divine Providence sent some of the flocks sooner than usual, in order that the shepherds might be in waiting to receive Jacob.
And now comes Rachel, the future wife of this eminent Patriarch; and the Providence of the Lord presented to his view that person whom at random he was seeking, and in whom so much of his earthly happiness was centred. The people of the Lord should see his hand in leading them throughout all their earthly pilgrimage. In all their ways they should acknowledge him. If they have a prosperous journey, they should give the praise to him who led Jacob to the well of Haran. Nothing is so little as to be below the attention of his Providence : nothing is so great as to be beyond the power of his Providence to accomplish.
JACOB'S PROSPERITY IN THE SERVICE OF LABAN.
Jacob had a hard service and a rigorous master. If he is to grow rich, it will not be from a great dowry, nor the generosity of Laban. He can have nothing but what he earns. Yet God did not forsake him ; and his Providence made him wealthy in the land of his servitude. And it is remarkable, that even in the extraordinary way in which he was en: riched, every thing was done not by immediate miracle, but in the way of Providence. God took
the possessions of Laban, and he gave them to Jacob; but he did it indirectly, and by the use of certain means to which his Providence gave effect. God could have commanded Laban to give Jacob what he saw fit. He could have given Jacob wealth without touching or diminishing the property of Laban. But in a way of Providence he transferred a considerable proportion of the property of Laban to Jacob as wages for service. And may we not see here a shadow of the kingdom given to Christ by his Father, on account of his hard service ? And what was Jacob's was also the property of his wives and children. In like manner, believers are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.
This fact affords us a key to open to us the Providence of God, in conferring wealth, or in diminishing possessions. Whatever may be the means by which prosperity and adversity are brought about, they are in all instances the work of Providence. Divine Providence, indeed, is as much concerned in the prosperity of the wicked as in that of the righteous; and in every instance in which it occurs, the God of Providence has a design in it. In like manner, the poverty or adversity of the people of God is as much overruled by the hand of Provi. dence as is their prosperity. Men of God ought to see his hand in their gains and in their losses; in their prosperity and in their adversity.