“And there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”—Genesis 32:24
My soul, here is a lovely portion for the morning. For the morning, did I say? Yea, both for night and morning, and, indeed, until the everlasting morning break in upon thee, and all the shadows of the night flee away. For are not all the seed of Jacob like their father, wrestlers in the actings of faith, and the fervour of prayer, until they come off, like him, prevailing Israels? And who was this man which wrestled with the patriarch? Let scripture explain scripture, and give the answer. By his strength, said the prophet Hosea, chap. 12:3, &c. “he had power with God; yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed; he wept and made supplication unto him; he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us; even the Lord God of Hosts, the Lord is his memorial.” Here then light is thrown upon the subject. He that is called a man in one scripture, is called an angel in this other. And that we might not overlook nor forget the identity of his person as the very man whose name was then secret, Judges 13:18. but hereafter to be made known, and himself appear openly, the prophet was commissioned to tell the church, that he that spoke with us, in the person of Jacob, our father, was the same that found Jacob in Bethel, even the Lord God of Hosts; for that was his memorial. Gen. 28:10-19. And was it then He, whose name is Wonderful, which wrestled with Jacob? And when the poor patriarch was hard put to it, full of fears, doubts, and distresses, on account of his brother Esau, and was stirring up himself to take hold of God’s strength, by way of strengthening himself against Esau, did he that came to strengthen him, first take hold of him, and seem to contend with him, until the breaking of the day? Oh then, my soul, here learn a sweet and precious lesson against the hour of the many contentions with the Esaus of thy warfare; for thou wrestlest not only against flesh and blood, but “against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” See, my soul, where thy strength is—even in Jesus. See what a blessed example of prevailing in prayer the Holy Ghost hath here set before thee. Look to this God-man with whom Jacob wrestled, and come off successful; and say with Job, “Will he plead against me with his great strength? no; but be will put strength in me.” Job 23:2-7. Fill thy mouth with arguments, as Job did. Tell Jesus of thy wants, tell him of his riches, tell him of thy guilt, tell him of his precious blood and righteousness, and tell him that thy misery, and weakness, and unworthiness, renders thee a suitable sinner for so gracious a Saviour to get glory by in saving. Go to him, my soul, with these strong, these unanswerable pleas. Jesus will love to hear, and to receive them. And while he wrestles with thee, do thou wrestle with him, all the night, in which thou art contending with thy sins within, and temptations without; with the errors of the infidel, and the crying sins of the profane. And do as Jacob did, wrestle, plead, supplicate, cry, and take hold of his strength, his blood, his righteousness, and God the Father’s covenant promises in him; and never give over, nor let him go, until the day break, and he blesseth thee.
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."