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hadst thou lived to that day. To have lived eat of his bread, lifted up his heel against till now, must have been to endure pangs him." Judas, one of his own house, sold him more frightful than the agonizing throes of for thirty pieces of silver. He was stripped childbirth, or the last dying struggles of dis- of his vesture, his raiment was stained with solving nature.
blood. “He looked and there was none to We hasten from a scene which the heart help." "He trode the wine-press alone." is unable long to contemplate, to land Joseph “ He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and sesefely in Egypt—where being arrived, he is parate from sinners.” “ He was brought as transferred, like a bundle of spicery, from the a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before Midianites to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his and captain of the guard.
“ It became him, for whom are And here your time warns me to stop. And all things, and by whom are all things, in here, in the hands of that God who “deliver- bringing many sons unto glory, to make the ed him from the paw of the lion and the captain of their salvation perfect through bear," we deposit this precious trust, confi- sufferings.”+ Men“ thought evil against him, dent of its being restored, like all that we but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, commit to God, increased in value, import- as it is this day, to save much people alive.”I ance, and utility. If the subject be pleasing “ The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, to you as it is to me, I shall hope to have the the thoughts of his heart to all generations." pleasure of resuming it with you next Lord's To the attentive reader of the sciptures, these, day.
and many such applications as these, of the Jesus, the well-beloved Son of God, came history of Joseph, to the person, the characfrom his Father's house above, to bring to ter, the office, and undertaking of the Mesus, his brethren after the flesh, the gentle siah, will readily occur. To the careless and and affectionate commendations of his Fa- unbelieving, more has been said than they ther's love. Instead of welcome, he met will understand, regard, or approve. We with reproach and scorn. “ He came to his commend them to the mercy of God, and we own and his own received him not. He implore a blessing on what has been spoken, was despised and rejected of men.” “ His for Christ's sake. Amen. familiar friend in whom he trusted, which did | * Isa. liii. 7. † Heb. ii. 10. (Gen. 1. 20. § Ps. xxxiii. 11.
HISTORY OF JOSEPH.
LECTURE XX X.
And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man, and he was in the house of his master the
Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him over. seer over his house and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass, from the time that he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake : and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand: and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat; and Joseph was a goodly person, and well-favoured.-GENESis xxxix. 2–6.
UNLESS “the heart be established by circumstances makes no apparent impression. grace," in prosperity it will be elated above This endeavours to pass upon itself
, and measure, and in adversity will be ready to actually does pass upon superficial observers, sink under the weight of its wo. A principle for moderation in success, and patience in of religion preserves the balance of the soul, affliction. But the rock is not patient, beand guards it equally from rising into inso- cause without murmuring it bears the inceslence, or falling into dejection. It has been sant dashing of the raging sea; neither does disputed whether prosperity or adversity be the snail deserve the praise of humility, bethe severer trial of the two. In order to de- cause it attempts not to fly. That moderatermine the question, it is necessary to know tion is estimable, which, awake to all the adthe character of the party who is tried. In vantages of rank, and fortune, and success, some persons we meet with a stupidity, an offends not God by levity and ingratitude, nor insensibility of nature, on which change of man by haughtiness and pride. That patience
merits admiration and praise, which feels, young man brought up like him, in fulness, yet complains not; which sighs, yet submits. liberty, indulgence, and ease, might have
It is very natural for men to fatter them- been supposed sullen and stubborn under a selves that they could support prosperity change of condition so sudden and so severe; with wisdom and propriety. But I believe or to have sunk into melancholy and despair. experience will evince, that while success But with Joseph it was not so. With true tends to relax, weaken, and extinguish the magnanimity and spirit, he cheerfully acreligious principle, calamity, by teaching us commodates his mind to his situation, and our own weakness and dependence, awakens, without murmur or reluctance, addresses strengthens, and keeps it alive. The lot of himself to the discharge of his duty as a dilimost men alternately furnishes occasion for gent and faithful servant. We have not exercise in both ways. It is the office of power over our lot, to carve it out as we genuine and solid piety, to instruct us " in please ; but the mind has power over itself: whatever state we are, therewith to be con- and happiness has its seat in the mind, not in tent;" “to exercise men unto godliness, external circumstances. The favourite son which is profitable unto all things, having of Israel seems degraded and dishonoured, the promise both of the life which now is, even when raised to the first rank of serviand of that which is to come.”
tude in Potiphar's house; but Joseph, pious, The amiable and illustrious person on modest, wise, and faithful, is equally respectwhose history we entered in the last Lecture, able whether as a son or as a servant. and which we are now to continue, attords a Never did Potiphar make so fortunate a shining and affecting example of a mind un- purchase. The blessing of God enters into subdued by the deepest distress, and uncor- his house, from the moment Joseph becomes rupted by the highest degree of elevation. a member of the family. In many various His affliction commenced at an early period ways are servants curses or comforts to those of life. It was, of its kind, peculiarly bitter with whom they dwell. Let a servant have and severe. It came from a quarter whence a conscience, and you have a certain pledge it was least to be apprehended; and the of his fidelity. Divest him of that, and transition was instantaneous, from a tranquil- where is your security, that either your lity and indulgence which knew no bound, property or your person is safe in his hands ? to anguish which no language can express, Joseph demeaned himself as a good servant; no imagination conceive. As he was to be Potiphar as a wise and a kind master. In an eminent type of Him, who, “as a sheep vain do we look for affection and attachment before her shearers is dumb, not opening her in our inferiors, if we treat them with insomouth,” scripture represents Joseph submit- lence, unkindness, or neglect. The great ting to the barbarous treatment of his and affluent are much more in the power of, brothers, as doomed to perish of hunger in much more dependent upon their meanest an empty pit, and sold into slavery to the domestics, than they are willing to underIshmaelites, without arguing, without up-stand, or to acknowledge. And surely, it is braiding, without repining.
much more prudent to secure their affection Were it possible to form a stronger idea of as humble friends, by condescension and good the hard heartedness of Jacob's sons than that nature, than to provoke their resentment or which their cruelty to Joseph affords, it is to revenge, by pride and severity. see them the calm witnesses of the anguish Joseph has been faithful over a few things, of their father's soul, without being moved he is made ruler over many things." He by all his misery and tears to divulge the made him overseer over his house, and all important secret, and to pour into the fond that he had he put into his hand.” His perpaternal heart the cordial balm, which even sonal accomplishments keep pace with his the knowledge of his son's being a slave in mental endowments," he was a goodly perEgypt would have administered. As a dawn son and wellfavoured.” Beauty, like every of hope would thence have arisen, that by other gift of nature, is good of itself, and some blessed revolution of events, the precious therefore to be received with thankfulness. hour might perhaps at length arrive, which But alas, how often does it prove a snare to should restore him to his father again. What the possessor, and a temptation to others ! a dreadful thing it is to embark on a sea of This quality of Joseph's had like to have vice! To return is difficult, if not impossible proved more fatal to him than even the envy -to proceed is ruin.
of his brothers. This last threatened only Joseph, meanwhile, lives and prospers in his body, but that endangers the soul. The a strange land. He has not lost all, he has one sold him into bondage, the other would lost nothing, who enjoys the divine presence have plunged him into dishonour. His masand favour. The amiable youth is indeed ter's wife looked upon him with eyes of unfrom under the shadow of his father's wing, hallowed affection, and attempts to make but the protection of Heaven is not with him a partaker of her impurity. To exdrawn; "the Almighty is his refuge, and patiate on the nature of this temptation, underneath are the everlasting arms.” A would be as indecent as it is unnecessary.
It is a fearful example of the dreadful length that goodness cannot mollify, what nature so which the human mind is capable of going, obdurate that the power of the Almighty when the restraints of shame are once broken cannot reach? The profession of a gaoler through
is unfriendly to benevolence; it is a characSome kinds of temptation are boldly to be ter which implies sternness and severity. encountered, and resolutely overcome. But whether this man were formed of gentler There are others only to be conquered by clay, or whether the meekness and modesty flight, and disarmed by removing to a dis- of Joseph had wrought even upon a rocky tance. Joseph dwells only on one circum- heart; or whether Providence specially instance, in order to settle and determine his terposed to further its own deep designs, so conduct-the all-seeing eye of God, and the it is, we find our good young man in high danger of offending him; "how then can I favour with his keeper. Wherever we find do this great wickedness, and sin against Joseph,-in Potiphar's house, in prison, or God."* Pleasure, and interest, and passion, at court, we find a man faithful, and diligent, blind the eyes; but conscience with scrupu- and trusty; and we find a man honoured, lous attention, always and every where re-esteemed, and confided in, by all with whom veres an omnipresent Jehovah. The lower he has any connexion. Let a man be inprinciples of our nature respect and are re- flexibly honest and true, and he will never gulated by consequences. This great prin- have reason to accuse the world of want of ciple is moved only by a sense of right and confidence. But it is no wonder if the diswrong. Interest and desire are contented honest knave find men full of doubt and suswith inquiring, “is there no danger of be- picion. As his master's house before, so the ing found out?” But conscience is only to prison now, prospers on Joseph's account. be satisfied by ascertaining, “ whether it be The world is not always sensible of its oblisin or duty."
gation to the presence of good men. But The consequence to Joseph, was such as Sodom was in a fearful state the moment might be expected from the temper of a righteous Lot went out of it; and when the shameless woman, false, lascivious, and re- people of God, “the salt of the earth,” are sentful. The demon of lust turned into those all removed from it, the end of the world of rage and revenge, she accuses of an at- cannot be at a great distance. tempt to seduce her, the man, whom no con- By a strange concurrence of circumsideration of pleasure, or of advantage, could stances, which the Divine Providence alone for a moment seduce from the right path.—could have brought together, Joseph has for This accusation, however false, being uncon- his fellow prisoners two of the chief officers tradicted, is admitted as true ; and Joseph, as of the king of Egypt, who had fallen under the reward of faithfulness almost without their master's displeasure; and had been for example, is immured in close custody, to be some time in confinement, uncertain of their dragged forth at a proper opportunity to doom. The great God is whetting his instruseverer punishment. And here again we ments, making his arrangements, marshalhave a fresh instance of the greatness of his ling his forces, at very different times, and in mind. He chooses rather to incur his mas- very different places. The envy of Jacob's ter's groundless displeasure, and to sink un- sons, the lasciviousness of Potiphar's wife, der the weight of a false accusation, than to the disobedience of Pharaoh's servants, the vindicate his own honour, by exposing the anger of the king himself,_all, all meet, shame of a bad woman; and he leaves the strange to think! in one point, the elevation clearing up of his character and the preser- of Joseph to the right hand of the throne. vation of his life, to that God with whom he Remove but one link, and the chain is broken had entrusted still higher concerns, those of asunder. Take away but a single stone, and his immortal soul. And thus, the least-as- the fabric falls to the ground. But “ this suming, the shamefaced, feminine virtues, work and counsel is of God, and therefore it temperance, and chastity, and innocence, cannot be overthrown.” “He willeth, and and self-government, are found in company none can let it.” with the most manly, the heroic qualities, It is not at all surprising, that he who had intrepidity, constancy and contempt of death. been preparing his work in places and in
No place is frightful to a good man but minds so remote from, so unlike to, and so the dungeon of an ill conscience. Free from unconnected with each other, should bring that, Joseph is at large, though in prison. It it to a conclusion by means somewhat unis the favour or displeasure of God that makes common and supernatural. It happened, this or the other spot comfortable or irksome. that in one and the same night, the chief " Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is butler and the chief baker of Pharaoh dreamliberty; but to the guilty, the whole world ed each a dream, which laid fast hold of their is a place of confinement. God, who deliver- minds and memory. And being men, like ed him out of the pit accompanies him also the rest of their country, strongly tinctured to the prison. And what heart so savage with superstition, and at that time in circum* Gen. xxxix. 9.
stances which peculiarly disposed them to
receive superstitious impressions, their spirits | tentates of the earth, and marshals the whole are considerably affected by the vision of the host of heaven is bringing his own word to night; not doubting, that it portended the pass, and performing his own pleasure. The speedy approach of some great good or evil. chief butler, we may suppose, readily proJoseph attending them in the morning, in mised Joseph his best services when he the course of his duty, observed the deep should be again restored to place and power; concern which was engraved on their counte- but like a true courtier, he thinks no more nances; and sympathy being always one of of his promise, nor of his fellow prisoner, after the native effusions of an honest heart, he his own turn was served. So selfish, so kindly inquires into the cause of it. thoughtless, so ungrateful is man! Had he
By the way, how pleasant is it to observe been under no personal obligation to the this excellent young person with so much young stranger, for his tender assiduities cheerfulness and good nature performing the while in confinement, and for the agreeable humble offices of a gaoler's servant? He and certain intelligence which he received was accustomed to be waited upon, to be from him of his approaching deliverance, ministered unto; but duty calls, and with common humanity, awakened by the simple alacrity he ministers to the necessity of tale of innocence and misery which he had others. But what do I sce? An under gaoler told, ought to have prompted his immediate starting up all at once into an interpreter of and most earnest exertions in his behalf. And dreams, possessing a sagacity that reaches yet he suffers two full years to linger away, into futurity, directed and taught by a Spirit without caring to reflect whether such a perwhose piercing eye penetrates into eternity, son existed or not. And when he thinks of and discerns all the wonders of the world him at last, it is not the generous recollection unknown! How much wiser, how much of kindness and attachment; but the selfish more noble, how much more excellent, are remembrance of courtly adulation, eager to they who live in communion with God than gratify his prince, not to rescue talents, and other men! For though they do not all at- innocence, and worth, from unmerited optain the gift of prophesy, the gift of working pression. Pharaoh hanged him not for the miracles, the gift of speaking with tongues ; offences which he had committed against his yet they all are dignified by the spirit of sovereign, but for his forgetfulness and inprayer, the spirit of adoption, “ the spirit gratitude to Joseph, let him be hung up an of faith, the spirit of love, and of a sound object of detestation and contempt to all gemind."
nerations of mankind. Joseph, from the different complexion of How very differently do God and men often their several dreams, and inspired no doubt judge of one and the same object! If there by wisdom from above, predicts their ap- be in all Egypt a person more forlorn and proaching doom; the speedy restoration of inconsiderable than another, it is an Hebrew the one to his former trust and dignity; a slave in a dungeon. But “God raiseth the sudden and ignominious death to the other. poor .out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out Nothing but inspiration could have borne of the dunghill, that he may set him with Joseph through a declaration so bold and de- princes.” Pharaoh himself now begins to act cisive, and which was to be brought to the a part in this wonderful drama. For kings, awful test of confirmation or disappointment in the hand of God, are only instruments of in so short a space as three days. So confi- an higher order, and of more extensive opedent is he of the certainty of his interpreta- ration. Kings are liable to hunger and thirst tion, that he founds all his hopes of enlarge-like other men; kings must sleep, and may be ment upon it. And there is something inex- disturbed by dreams like other men and pressibly tender and pathetic in his applica- thus it happened to the mighty sovereign of tion to the chief butler to that effect, but Egypt. With vision upon vision, in one think on me when it shall be well with thee, night, was his rest troubled ; the strange coand show kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and incidence and mysterious import of which make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring greatly perplex his waking thoughts. In a me out of this house. For indeed I was country teeming with gods, and overrun with stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: superstition, no circumstance was overlooked and here also have I done nothing, that they which in any manner seemed to portend a should put me into the dungeon."
future event. No wonder then that the The event justified the prediction; and it prince, who has not always the best informed is an awful and affecting illustration of the nor the firmest mind of any man within his observation of the wise man, “ the king's dominions, should be rendered uneasy by heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers repetition of dreams, so singular in themof water: he turneth it whithersoever he selves, so similar to, and yet so unlike one will.”+ A youth, a stranger, a prisoner, could another. It is not less wonderful, that in a have no power over the counsels of Pharaoh. country so prolific of magicians and soothBut the power which controls all the po- sayers, not one should be found bold enough * Gen. xl. 14, 15.
† Prov. xxi. 1. to affix a meaning, or guess at an interpreta
tion. Was it that the true God confounded describable charm in true wisdom, in unafand silenced their vain imaginations ? or that fected goodness, that forces approbation, and Pharaoh, dissatisfied with their idle conjec- carries the heart captive at once. There is tures, and prompted from above to make far- a native dignity in virtue, which, while it ther inquiry, rejected the usual modes of so- never assumes, nor pushes itself forward, is lution, that, heaven-directed, Joseph might never timorous, embarrassed or awkward. emerge out of obscurity to save a great na- Joseph possesses unaffected ease and comtion, to preserve his father's house in famine, posure in the presence of Pharaoh and all the and to fulfil the prediction and promise made court; and the court on this occasion, we to Abraham, concerning the future fortunes have reason to think, was a very splendid, of his posterity ?
public, and crowded one. So good a thing it
а The king's vexation interests and affects is to have the heart established by the lear the whole court. And then for the first time, of God. It casts out every other fear. But the chief butler bethinks himself of his faults. the days of his depression are now ended, and of his promise, and of his obligations to and every step he has trod through this valhis fellow prisoner, and relates in the hearing ley of humiliation, is a progress made to the of the king, the very extraordinary circum- glory that follows. And here we break off, stances of his own imprisonment and enlarge- having conducted Joseph to the right hand ment; of his dream, the interpretation and of the throne; and beholding him ready to the issue. He is of consequence led to men- mount the second chariot, while admiring tion the character and situation of the inter- nations proclaim before him, “ bow the preter. This instantly effects for Joseph, knee." what his friendship, had it been exerted, per- The next Lecture will exhibit the son of haps would not have produced—an immediate Jacob in all the splendour of high life;
armed order to set the prisoner free, and to bring with all the authority of a minister of state, him without delay into the royal presence. possessing a plenitude of power over the When men can be subservient to the inte- whole kingdom of Egypt. rest, the pleasure, or the ambition of princes, Turn for a moment from Joseph, and bethey are in the sure road to preferment; and hold a greater than him. “The prince of a man is often more indebted for success to this world came, and found nothing in him." a fortunate incident than to a righteous cause. Temptation addressed to “the lust of the Joseph's affairs are now in a train such as his flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of warmest friends could wish; and again we life," had from his lips an instant repulse,"it see another saying of the wise man verified: is written, it is written.” “In his humilia" Seest thou a man diligent in his business ? tion his judgment was taken away;" he sufHe shall stand before kings, he shall not fered as a malefactor, though he did no sin, stand before mean men.
neither was guile found in his lips.” He was Pharaoh's expectations are not disappoint- condemned and put to death upon a false aced. He relates his dreams; and God, the au- cusation. From the triumphant ignominy thor of the visions, and who had sent the in- of the cross, he dispenses life and death to terpreter and the explanation, by the mouth his fellow-sufferers ; paradise to the one, of Joseph unfolds its meaning and import. everlasting shame to the other. “Who hath Pharaoh's dream had puzzled himself and all known the mind of the Lord, or, being his Egypt by its first aspect; but now that it is counsellor, hath taught him?" "The only explained, how easy, how simple, how appli- begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Facable, how natural every thing appears! The ther, he hath declared him.” “No man greatest discoveries, after they are made, ap-knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to pear so obvious and so plain, that every one whom the Son shall reveal him.” “ He made is ready to wonder he did not hit upon it first; himself of no reputation, and took upon him and this, instead of diminishing, greatly en- the form of a servant, and was made in the hances the merit of the first discoverer.— likeness of men. And being found in fashion Upon the manifestation of the import of Pha- as a man, he humbled himself and became raoh's redoubled vision, it is found, that God, obedient unto death, even the death of the who had given formerly to two of the ser-cross. Wherefore God hath also highly exvants an intimation of their approaching fate, alted him, and given him a name which is was now giving to the sovereign a premoni- above every name; that at the name of Jesús tion of the visitations of his providence, to every knee should bow, of things in heaven, this great, populous, and wealthy empire. A and things in earth, and things under the previous notice of good renders it a double earth ; and that every tongue should confess blessing; a warning of evil prepares us to that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God meet it, and thereby diminishes its weight. the Father."* • Fools and slow of heart to
Joseph's interpretation carried conviction believe all that the prophets have spoken: along with it; and Pharaoh immediately re- ought not Christ to have suffered these solves to act upon it. There is a certain un- things, and to enter into his glory?”+ “To * Prov. xxii. 29.
| Luke xxiv. 25, 26. R
· Phil. ii. 7-11.