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30. A Transient World, and Abiding Christian-on John,
JACOB PUTTING AWAY STRANGE GODS.
GENESIS, XXXV, 1–5 And God said unto Jacob, arise : go up to Bethel, and dwell there :
and make there an Altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, put away the strange Gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments, and let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an Altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. And they gave unto Jacob all the strange Gods which were in their hand, and all their ear-rings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the Oak which was by Shechem.
And they journeyed : and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.
We behold here a very natural picture of a family in the midst of care and trouble; and a pious man at the head of it, whose cares made him forget his sacred obligations. But the Lord is he that restoreth the soul!
Jacob had endured many distresses. One, in particular, lately befel his family, in which his sons had rashly put a city to the sword. We find him saying to his sons, Ye have troubled me, to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land; and, I being few in number, they shall gather themselves against me and slay me, and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.
house. In the midst of these cares and troubles God admonishes Jacob. As if he had said, “ Leave this matter to me,
Cast thy burden upon the Lord: he shall sustain thee, and thy family too: but arise thou, and go to Bethel, and dwell there, and make there an altar unto God ihat appeared unto thee, when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. Remember thy vow!"
You have an account of this vow in the xxviiith chapter. And Jacob called the name of that place Bethel. And he vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and keep me in this way
and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then shall the Lord be my God: and this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house; and, of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
He vowed a vow, and he forgot it. Occupied with his distresses, particularly the one which lately befel his family, and overwhelmed with care, he forgets a vow of which God reminds him. The Lord said, " Arise and go up to Bethel.” Jacob, obedient to “ the vision, commands his family to put away their strange gods, goes to Bethel, builds an altar, and buries their idolatrous instruments; and God so protects him, that of the inhabitants of the land, whom he feared, and among whom he felt he was become a nuisance, not one ventured to attack him: The terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.
This passage furnishes :
REPROOF OF OUR FORGETFULNESS OF PAST MERCIES.
A LESSON OF DUTY TO OUR FAMILIES.
CONSOLATION OF EVERY PIOUS MAN, WHO UNDERTAKES THE REFORMATION OF HIS FAMILY-one of the most difficult of duties !
I. REPROOF OF OUR FORGETFULNESS OF PAST MERCIES.
It was seven or eight years since Jacob came to Canaan. He had purchased ground, and built an