earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land, for I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, how dreadful is this place ! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven! And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it, and he called the name of that place Bethel : and Jacob vowed a vow, saying, if God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, 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."

From that moment, this spot was for ever consecrated in the eyes of the Patriarch. He returned to it, we are informed, many years afterwards, with the wives and the children whom God had given him, and “built there an altar." Here, again, he held communications with God, and had the same great promises confirmed to him, which the course of after ages has seen so wonderfully fulfilled. It was, as they were journeying, too, from this place, that his beloved Rachel brought him Benjamin, the son of his old age, and at the same time left him to mourn. “She died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem, and Jacob set a pillar upon her grave.” We thus see, how all the most sacred and interesting affections of the Patriarch came to be indissolubly connected with these simple memorials; and I know no more beautiful illustration than this history affords, of that disposition in the human mind to attach its most valued emotions and recollections to particular places and scenes.

This tendency has in all ages been principally shewn with respect to places of religious worship; and there is something, perhaps, in the nature of that service, which, more than any other, requires every aid which imagination and habit can supply. It is wise, indeed, and it is the perfection of religion, to trace the Deity wherever we go-to regard the universe itself as his temple,-to see his beneficence in the

splendours of the morning sun, or the boundless magnificence of his power in the unfathomed glories of the nightly heavens ;

-to feel his presence amid our solitary walks in the stillness and beauty of nature; or, when we come again into the world, to observe his rule guiding even the discordant counsels of man to bow before Him in gratitude, in the bosom of our families, and in the retirement of our closets, conscious that from his bounty have flowed all our domestic enjoyments, and that to his hand we are indebted even for “our daily bread." Yet men, though of the greatest reflection and piety, are incapable, amidst the avocations of common life, to preserve in their souls this tone of universal devotion; and it were far too much to expect it from the world in general. The little concerns of our present existence, and still more the vanities and vices with which it is stained, are ever concealing from us the presence of the Deity :the order and the beneficence of the material world, too often, pass before our eyes without conveying to us any intimation of the hand that worketh in secret ;-and, immersed in the pursuits and the interests of the world of man, we forget that we are moving in the world of GOD! At times, indeed, when we are roused by some striking event, we awake like the Patriarch from our sleep, and say, “ Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not :” but such is the infirmity and the disorder of our nature, that were there no fixed places of religious thought and worship, its sentiments would in a great measure lose their hold, even of the best affected and most pious minds,

I. The influence of sacred places upon the mind, arises, in the first place, from the solemn circumstances of their institution. When particular places are set apart for the purposes of religion, from that moment they acquire, in the estimation of man, a character of peculiar sanctity. He now feels himself for ever precluded from intruding upon their hallowed precincts, except in the spirit of devotion-and he regards them as from henceforth, solely dedicated to God. Thus too, it is, that, in all ages, some rites, we find, however rude and simple, have been employed to add to the solemnity of such dedications, and to aid the force of their natural impression. We are told, in the passage before us, that the Patriarch set up the


stone on which he had slept “ for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it, and he called that place Bethel,” or 'the House of God. In the solemnity of this dedication an impression was fixed upon his mind which no after time could

Amidst all his future wanderings, and his long years of service in a foreign land, the place which he had thus dedicated to the God of his Fathers, would often, we may believe, return to his imagination, and bring with it to soothe the irksomeness of his toils, that train of lofty hopes which it had first awakened; and while he was watching the flocks of his severe task-master, would, like the vision of Angels that spoke peace to the shepherds of Bethlehem, descend upon the secrecy of his soul, and surround him with the glories of “ the gate of Heaven.” Wherever he went, indeed, the surrounding universe would, in all its aspects, announce the presence of its Author to his contemplative and pious mind; yet the pillar which he had set up as the memorial of the hopes and promises which had been vouchsafed to him, and where he had vowed his first vow of youthful obedience, would still be present to his thoughts as the spot to which he would


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