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means that God saw fit to make use of on this occasion for the deliverance of Jacob? Did he order Jacob to face his adversaries in the field, promising him the victory? Often he did so with the house of Israel. But not so here. This would have had an appearance of compromising the character of the Ruler of the world. He would have appeared to be like the gods of the Greeks and Trojans, without respect to right and wrong. God, therefore, employs not the children of Israel to defend themselves on this occasion. Here his wisdom sees fit to act without human means. Instead of delivering through the hands of men, he acts, by his Providence, on the minds of the affected nations, and fills them with the fear of the family of Jacob. The family of Jacob were but a handful of people, yet the Sovereign Lord made them a terror to powerful nations. "And the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob."
It is in this way that God defends and delivers his people, who are in the world as sheep in the midst of wolves. The enemies of God's people may rule, but God rules the rulers. His enemies may sit on the bench of judgment, but God presides in the court and directs the judgment. wicked hate the righteous, but the terror of God often prevents the effects of their malice. It is this sovereign power of the Ruler of the world over the hearts of the children of men that makes man capable of civil rule. Were it not for this, no govern
ment could exist for a single month. God has appointed civil government, and his Providence supports it. All the numbers, and wisdom, and combination of men against existing powers, are generally of no avail. In one way or other, God, in his Providence, disappoints their purposes. When he sees fit to effect a revolution, the sons of Belial are always ready unconsciously to be the instruments. God does not employ his children in this vile work.
What consolation does this afford to the true children of God! It would indeed be a melancholy thing, if God would place them helpless in the power of the wicked, without himself directing and overruling the determinations and conduct of the enemies of Israel. But though the people of God are, in all things in which the authority of their Master does not interfere, to obey the rulers of this world under whom Divine Providence has placed them, yet they are, in the smallest matters as well as the greatest, under the sovereign care of Him who rules the world.
REUBEN'S SIN.-Gen. xxxv. 22.
"And Israel heard it." Yes, the foul deed did not remain covered; although, no doubt, every means of secrecy was employed. The Providence of God takes care to bring to light the works of darkness in his people. The case of David, and
many others, fully confirm this. God sees in darkness as in the light, and when his people, in their departure from his laws, seek to hide themselves from him and from the world, he will publish their shame in the face of day. This ought to be an additional guard on the conduct of the people of God; and they ought to do nothing that will not bear the light. What is said in the ear or the closet will be proclaimed on the housetops. It is a grievous
thing to bring a reproach on the cause of God, and by one's conduct stumble others, so as to prevent them from entering the kingdom of heaven. In this peculiarity of his Providence the wisdom of God is characteristic, and distinguished from that of men. Every man would hide the disgrace of those whom he loves. God makes it manifest. Christians are commanded to cover one another's faults; but God is not under law; and though he loves us infinitely beyond our love to one another, yet he puts his people to open shame, when they sin in secret.
THE REMOVAL OF ESAU TO MOUNT SEIR.
The removal of Esau with his family and effects to Mount Seir, is evidently the effect of a peculiar Providence. The brothers were living in harmony. Why, then, did they not both continue to reside in the land of Canaan? The residence of Esau could not interfere with the right of Jacob to the ultimate inheritance of the land of promise. Let Esau re
side where he might, Jacob must go down into Egypt, and others must possess the land of Canaan for a long period. Why, then, not disinherit Esau ? If one of the brothers must give place, why did not Jacob? This would be more consistent with his former conduct on his return. He always gave the preference to Esau. The reason obviously is, had Esau continued to live in Canaan, his posterity must be ejected on the return of Israel from Egypt. God gave Mount Seir as an inheritance to the posterity of Esau, and he takes this way to put them in possession. The prosperity of the brothers made it impossible for them both to reside in the same neighbourhood; and God, who rules in the hearts of all men, even of those who know him not, directed that Esau should of himself resolve to leave the country of his birth. "And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob. For their riches were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle. Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom."-Gen. xxxvi. 6-8. How wonderful are the ways of Providence! God performs his purposes by the voluntary resolves of the most capricious tyrant, as easily as he guides the heavenly bodies by the laws of motion. Such wisdom is too wonderful for us.
JUDAH'S SECRET SIN MANIFESTED BY PROVIDENCE. Gen. xxxviii. 17.
When the people of the Lord, overcome by temptation, fall into the hands of Satan, and think to indulge in secrecy, without forfeiting their characters, they are generally disappointed. The works of darkness, in the children of this world, the Lord may reveal only when he comes to judgment, to bring to light the hidden things of darkness. But, when his own people forsake him secretly, he often puts them to public shame. The very plans of worldly wisdom, by which they continue to hide their sins, he can make the means of detection and discovery. So was it here with Judah. He was taken in a net, and what he thought to keep secret was laid open not only to those who knew him, but blazoned in the word of God before all generations. Let not the Lord's people, then, sin in secret with the hope of remaining covered. What they do in the secret closet, God can proclaim from the housetops.
How foolish and absurd is it to be more afraid of the eye of man than of God! We ought to look on God as being present with us continually, as much as if we saw him with our bodily eyes. "Thou God seest me," ought to be written, as it were, on the palms of our hands. We cannot by our subtlety hide ourselves from his penetrating eye. And he is a God who hateth iniquity.