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appeared to Solomon in a dream, (1 Kings iii. 5.) and to Gideon, Daniel, and Nebuchadnezzar, (see Dan. ii. 1. and vii. 1.) “Sometimes a dream cometh through much business,” (Eccles. v. 3.) The mind filled with cogitations through the day, pursues them through the night, mixing them up with strange fantastic visions, all which retire at the opening day. But Jacob's dream was of a different order ; it was a divine communication, intended probably to fix his mind upon the constant superintendence and nearness of his God and Father. He dreamed, and behold! a ladder. The word, “ Behold !" is usually prefixed to denote something of importance, of which numerous instances occur in the sacred scriptures.
The ladder appears to have typified divine providence, connecting the affairs of heaven and earth, denoting the regular and harmonious unison of its operations ; one step leading to a second; a second to a third, and so on. We behold their commencement as we see the first round of the ladder, but the issue is in the clouds, far above human vision or human faculty to comprehend.
“ God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform ;
And rides upon the storm.” We endeavor to ascend from round to round of this mysterious ladder, but our most subtle conjectures are unavailing. To the mother who has lost her child; to the widow who has been bereft of her fond and endeared partner; to the flock which have been deprived of their beloved minister; to the survivors of the hapless passengers and crew that perished in the wrecked vessel, God says,
“What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.” Although he gives no account of his proceedings, and none dares to ask him—“What doest thou ?" yet all his ways are judgment; he stands above the ladder, controlling, ruling, and ordering all things after the counsel of his own will; all his works praise him, and his saints bless his name; the whole ransomed choir of saints around the throne above, glorify him for all his proceedings in providence and grace, and exclaim with rapturous plaudits—“Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, O thou king of saints."
“ Jehovah stood above the ladder.” His eyes behold, and his eye-lids try the children of men, from the monarch that wields his sceptre over a wide domain, to the peasant of the humble cot, who has not a foot of ground to call his own, and who earns his scanty meal by the sweat of his brow. Events apparently insignificant are important as they are connected with others. A man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps; he marks the progress of the tyrant as he goes on conquering and to conquer, pursuing his own designs, and aiming at his own gratification, but really working out the purposes of that God on whom he never bestows a single thought.
This part of the vision was intended to impress upon the mind of the patriarch, that Jehovah superintended his steps; that all were directed and controlled by him, and thus his mind should be sustained and comforted by his guidance and consolation. This vision represented the perpetual intercourse between heaven and earth, by the ministry of angels, a subject that has often engaged the researches of the curious, but still remains to a great extent unintelligible. Paul says, they are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister unto the heirs of salvation. The angels were continually ascending and descending this ladder. “Ascending,” says Mr. Henry, “to give account of what they have done, and to receive orders; and, descending, to execute the orders they have received,” If the reader will examine the sacred scriptures, he will find constant allusions to the active ministry of these celestial messengers. They rejoice at the conversion of sinners, and unite in the songs of praise to God and the Lamb. How far their agency is connected with saints upon earth is to us unrevealed. Toplady sings, in one of his beautiful compositions
Thy ministering spirits descend,
To watch while thy saints are asleep ;
The heirs of salvation to keep:
Repair to their stations assigned
To guard the elect of mankind.”
How gracious and condescending is the declaration of God to Jacob! how much adapted to excite his confidence and dispel his fears! "I am the Lord God of Abraham, thy father, and the God of Isaac; the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed. What an honorable genealogy! The God of his father and grandfather; and, above all, his own God! Children are well and nobly descended when they have pious ancestors, in whose blessings they are more or less partakers. A still more interesting part of this promise is the assurance of the presence of God, Behold, I am with thee; to guide, preserve, supply, and bless thee, and will keep thee in all places whithersoever thou goest: for I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”
The mind of Jacob was deeply impressed and affected by this vision. He awoke, but not in terror, with a solemn pleasing
Surely,” he exclaimed, “ the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not. How dreadful is this place; this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” God sometimes favors his people with unexpected visits, to renew their strength and excite their desires after himself. In his dreary, solitary abode, he found a Bethel : there he reflected on the goodness of God; there he received exceedingly great and precious promises; there he entered into a fresh engagement to be the Lord's; there he determined to erect an altar to God, who had thus appeared unto him; and there his grateful heart entered into a covenant to devote a tenth of his property to him, who gave him all. Such effects will follow when Bethel services and Bethel seasons are sanctified. The world will sink into nothing, and God will be all in all.
R. C. Penryn.
RESPONSIVE SONGS OF THE ARABS. ABOUT sunset we left the rich banks of the Nile, and entered again upon the pathless desert. We could not observe so much as one foot-print of man or beast upon the smooth sand. Soon we came upon the sea shore and rode along the margin, the waves washing the asses' feet while the moon rose to light us on our way. At one point, our drivers being weary, proposed encamping for the night; but Ibraim advised us to advance a little farther.
Upon this, the young Arabs proceeded without a murmur, and in order to cheer the way, commenced a native dance and song. One of them advancing a little before the rest, began the song, dancing forward as he repeated the words, when the rest following him in regular order, joined in the chorus, keeping time by a simultaneous clapping of hands. They sang several Arabian songs in this way, responding to one another, and dancing along the firm sand of the sea shore, in the clear, beautiful moonlight. The response, the dance, and the clapping of the hands, brought many parts of the word of God to our minds. We remembered the song of Miriam at the Red Sea, when the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances; and Miriam answered them—that is, Miriam sang responsively to them : and also the song of the women of Israel after David's victory over the giant. They answered one another as they played, and said, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” The words of the psalmist were likewise brought to mind, "O! clap your hands, all ye people: shout unto God with the voice of triumph ;' and again, “ Let the floods clap their hands ; let the hills be joyful together-or, in full choir.” The responsive form of the 136th Psalm, and others of a like kind, was fully illustrated by this interesting scene.- - Mission to the Jews.
LEARN ALL YOU CAN, Never repress the inquiries of a child, when they admit of simple and satisfactory answers, even though you do not see any immediate use in the information you are thus communicating. The same principle holds good also with persons of riper years: let them learn all they can, whatever station in life they may be destined to occupy. I once knew a weak-minded grandmother who happened to be sitting by her grandchild when he made his first attack upon English grammar. He had stumbled through the words “Syntax” and “Prosody," with some difficulty; when, animated by his success, he went back in his lesson, to lay siege for the fourth or fifth time to the more refractory polysyllable, “e-ty-mo-lo-gy.” With the foolish fondness for which many grandmothers are remarkable, she
peered over her spectacles at the little fellow for a few moments, and then taking the book from him with a look of mingled pity and contempt, exclaimed, “ Never mind it, Georgy; don't ye try again ; I war’nt ye, ye'll never have to go to any of those places, Syntax, or Prosomy, or any one of 'em.”
Are there not hundreds of parents who act as injudiciously, in restricting the requirements of their children to those branches of education which in their narrow view seem alone to be necessary for enabling them to get through the world, as the phrase is; as if knowledge were of no use when it could not be turned into pounds, shillings, and pence. Taking only this beggarly estimate of learning, even, how often are they mistaken! A little practical information, picked up by chance as it were, will often outweigh the most laborious scholastic acquirements.
An individual, by one of those accidents so common to the mariner, was wrecked upon an uninhabited shore, and must have submitted to the painful alternative of starvation or death by poison, had not a slight acquaintance with botany, acquired out of school, and with no other stimulus but such as a mind naturally intelligent never wants, enabled him to distinguish, by the character of the fruits and flowers he met with, what vegetable products were injurious, and what might be eaten with impunity. Burnett relates an interesting anecdote of another shipwrecked person whose strength and courage were kept up, when hoping against hope, merely by a knowledge of the same delightful pursuit; his trembling hand, thrust forth in the dark, accidentally laid hold of a plant, which his botanical knowledge assured him never grew under water, and he knew therefore that the rising tide could not submerge him if he kept his head above that spot. Thus satisfied of his safety, he waited till the waves retired, instead of risking his life in some desperate attempt to save it.
Hasselquist, the famous Swedish traveller, has a remark very much to our present purpose. Speaking of the obelisk at Matarée, in Egypt, he says, “I never believed natural history was so useful in the study of antiquities as I experienced : a person who is acquainted with birds may see at first sight of what kind those are which are carved upon it. I could know a strix (owl) which stood uppermost on the top of the obelisk; a scolopax