Abbildungen der Seite

him that overcometh will I grant to sit with your God kings and priests, and we shall reign me in my throne, even as I also overcame, on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the and am set down with my Father in his voice of many angels round about the throne, throne."*

“ Be thou faithful unto death, and and the beasts and the elders, and the numI will give thee a crown of life.”+

ber of them was ten thousand times ten thouI conclude all in the words of the beloved sand, and thousands of thousands, saying with disciple, who thus describes a more august a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was vision than ever appeared to Pharaoh: “And slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisI beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne, dom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the and blessing. And every creature which is elders, stood a Lamb, as it had been slain : in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which and such as are in the sea, and all that are are the seven spirits of God, sent forth into in them, heard I, saying, Blessing, honour, all the earth. And they sung a new song, glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, upon the throne and unto the Lamb for ever and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy And the four and twenty elders fell down blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and and worshipped him that liveth for ever and people, and nation; and hast made us unto ever."* | Rev. ii. 10.

* Rev. v. 6–14.

* Rev. iii. 21.



And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God

is ? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled : only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it on Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck: and he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had : and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh ; and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.--GENESIS xli. 38–44.

Ir it be pleasant to observe, in particular | kind. Now the alternate succession of day instances, the providence of God justifying and night, of fair weather and rain, have not its own procedure, by relieving and vindi- greater beauty and utility in the world of cating oppressed innocence, or by precipi- nature, than the successive shades of advertating prosperous guilt from its lofty seat; sity, and sunbeams of prosperity, which apwhat must be the satisfaction and delight of pear on the face of the moral world. beholding the whole plan of Providence un- Of this unceasing succession or mixture, folded, every mystery in the divine conduct the lot of individuals

, the fortune of nations, explained, and all the ways of God to men the state of the globe, perhaps the system of completely vindicated! A very considerable the universe is composed. Nothing is perpart of our present distress arises from hasti- mitted to continue too long: no being is sufness and impatience of spirit. We are for fered to go too far out of his station. The rushing to the end at once; we will not af- balance eternally depends from the hand of ford our Maker and Ruler leisure to open his a Being possessed of infinite wisdom; and own designs, to illustrate his own meaning. after a few slight vibrations, the scales We would have the work of Heaven per- speedily bring each other into equilibrium formed in our way; we have settled the again. The swelling of a wave, the rolling whole order of things in our own minds; and of the ship, nay the finger of a child, may for all is wrong that ignorance, fretfulness, and a moment derange the compass; but after presumption are pleased to dislike. Cloudy, trembling an instant or two from point to rainy weather is much less agreeable than point, immediately the needle resumes its serenity; yet it requires but a moment's re- steady, stated northern direction. flection to be convinced that eternal sunshine If there be in history a passage, which would be the reverse of a blessing to masi- more than another encourages us patienly


and submissively to wait for the end, to fol- plexion they be, to influence the conduct of low and submit to the conduct of Providence, life, so as to induce us to neglect our duty, it is the story of Joseph the son of Jacob. to vex and disquiet ourselves, or disturb What man of humanity would have refused others, is absurd, superstitious, and wicked. to lend his helping hand to rescue the inno- There are three particulars in this part of cent youth from the fury of his unnatural | the history of Joseph, which have exercised brothers, to pull him up out of the pit, and to the learning and ingenuity of critics and restore him to his father again? Who would commentators. First, whether the Hebrew not gladly have sacrificed a part of his sub- word, Abrech, translated in our version, “ bow stance to purchase his release from Egyptian the knee,” had not better have been renderservitude? What friend to truth and virtue ed, as the word will bear, “tender father" but would have rejoiced to vindicate his cha- an appellation descriptive of his office and racter from the vile aspersions of his infa- character; dignity and gentleness united. mous mistress, and to save him from unde- Seccndly, it is inquired, what is the exact served punishment? What heart, alive to import of the name which Pharaoh gave to the feelings of gratitude, but would have se- Joseph upon his promotion ? It was customaconded the application of the chief butler,” | ry for eastern princes and nations to distinfor his immediate enlargement ? But all guish by new titles, persons who had renderthis would have been precipitate, rash, and ed themselves illustrious by superior abilities, absurd. His fond father himself could not or splendid and important actions; as in the have conducted his favourite son to the ho- case of Daniel and the three other children nours which he attained, by a way so certain, of the captivity. That which was given to 80 safe, and so honourable.' Whether we re- Joseph, according to some, is an Egyptian gard Joseph himself, or the interests of his expression which signifies “Saviour of the father's family, or the welfare of Egypt, or world,” and this, if just, conveys a high idea the good of the human race, Providence, of the importance which the king ascribed to when we come to the issue, it is found, has Joseph's information and advice. Others secured, promoted, and succeeded them all, contend that it signifies no more than “rein its own wise and gracious method, in- vealer, or expounder of secrets." This last finitely better than they possibly could have interpretation has the most numerous, perbeen by all the sagacity and foresight of man. haps the most respectable support. The

By the wonderful steps then which we third particular alluded to, involves in it have seen, behold Joseph exalted to the right something like a censure of Joseph, as if, hand of Pharaoh, made lord over all Egypt, hurried away by motives of ambition and the lives, the conduct, the liberties, the pro- pride, he had been eager to form an improperty of millions entrusted to his care, sub- per and dangerous matrimonial connexion jected to his authority. Behold him married with an idolatrous woman, nay, the daughter to a princess, arrayed in vestures of fine li- of a man who by profession, as priest of On, nen, a gold chain about his neck, the royal or Heliopolis, the city of the Sun, was consignet in his hands, riding through the land cerned to support and promote an idolatrous in the second chariot, while admiring nations worship. The critics who advance and bow the knee before him. Behold the dream maintain this opinion, represent Joseph as a which boyish vanity, perhaps at first sug- mere timeserving sycophant, imbibing in a gested, which fraternal jealousy so keenly moment the spirit and manners of a court, reprobated, and so sternly avenged, which a and sacrificing principle to conveniency. I father's wisdom was constrained to check confess myself so partial to this amiable and and reprove, and which incredulity, no doubt, excellent inan, that without hesitation I unwould treat as the idle chimera of a disturb- dertake to meet this charge; and would aled imagination, is verified and brought to lege in his behalf, that, as the Spirit of God pass. When we observe so many of the im- no where reprehends this conduct, which in portant events of Joseph's life turning upon cases deserving blame is done freely and the hinge of dreams and their interpretation, without reserve, so we ought not, without we are taught to think respectfully of every just cause, and perfect knowledge, to find method by which God is pleased to commu- fault; charity obliging us “ to think no evil,” nicate the knowledge of his will to mankind. where we can think well; to put the best And, when our own dreams, as they some-construction on what is doubtful, and to judge times do, either call us to duty, or convince of what is not clear and explicit

, by that us of sin; when they recal to our memory which is. When I see Providence blessing what is past, or admonish us of what is to this union by the birth of two sons, raised in come, so that we may profit thereby, we process of time to a double rank of dignity ought to consider them as warnings from and importance in Israel, it is impossible for Heaven, and the voice of God. But to at- me to think uncharitably of the union itself, tend to and seek a meaning in every wan- which was the origin of that blessing. What, dering of a sleeping fancy is silly and child- did Joseph acknowledge God so closely in ish; and to suffer them of whatever com-/ every thing, even to the very naming of his

children, correspondently to the aspects of dictions are accomplished. What seldom the Divine Providence towards him, and can meets, the sovereign and the subject strive we suppose he neglected God in a matter of who shall exalt him most; his domestic feso much higher consequence ?, Let me rather licity keeps pace with the public prosperity; say, and say it without reserve, that the conscience approves; and God, the great piety, the chastity, the fidelity, the self-God, smiles. If there be a condition of hugovernment of Joseph, in flying from an illi- manity to be desired, to be envied, it was cit commerce with his master's wife, was this. thus rewarded of Heaven by a virtuous and Shall I stop to express a wonder, that dulasting union with a chaste virgin and a ring all this period, with all the power of prince's daughter. But we dwell too long Pharaoh in his hand, with a heart so tender, on a vindication, which was perhaps alto- and a spirit so dutiful, he should make no atgether unnecessary. To proceed :

tempt to convey to the wretched old man in Joseph has arrived at a station of very high Canaan, intelligence concerning his preserhonour, but it is not to him a post of emolu- vation and his present condition. But 1 ment and ease merely; and I rejoice to see check myself, when I consider that the whole the same person who diligently and humane- was of the Lord of Hosts, " who is wonderful ly served the gaoler as a deputy, and who in counsel, and excellent in working.” faithfully managed the affairs of Potiphar as It is worth while to observe, how the style a steward, attentively, humbly, industriously of scripture is adapted to experience, and conducting the interests of a great king, and the nature of things. Years of tranquillity a mighty empire, as a minister of state. On and success glide away imperceptibly: but which Ì found an observation frequently every moment of pain is observed and felt, made already, I care not how often, that the as it halts along. Accordingly, the history fear of God is the best security of a man's of seven prosperous and abundant years is good behaviour in every situation; and that despatched in a sentence or two; whereas

he is to be trusted in nothing, who has not seven years of famine, as they were more sena conscience in every thing.'

sibly felt in their progress, so they afford more Joseph was but thirty years old when he abundant materials to the pen of the histostood before Pharaoh, seventeen of which he rian; and the detail is lengthened out to the had passed under the wing of a fond, indul- reader, as the distress was to the unhappy gent parent, and the other thirteen, that sufferers. Little do we think of this in the period of life when the heart is most devoted days of health, and ease, and joy ; and thereto pleasure, he had lingered away in all the fore little thankful are we to God for our variety of human wretchedness; but in all multiplied comforts. To instruct us in their the dignity of virtue, all the superiority of value, he is constrained to put forth his hand, wisdom, all the delights, pure and sublime, and either to withdraw or mar them; and of true piety. And now, at an age when we awaken, alas too late, to a sense of our most men are only beginning to reflect and obligations to an indulgent Providence ! act as reasonable beings, we see him raised, The seven years of famine are now comnot by accident nor cabal, nor petulence, but menced, and the honour of Joseph's sagacity by undisputed merit, to a situation, which is established, but by a very different proof. one part of mankind looks up to with desire, When either the promises or the threatenanother with awe, and a third with despair. ings of the word are fulfilled, we have And happy was it for Egypt, that ever this equally a demonstration of the truth and youth, this stranger, this Hebrew was sold faithfulness of God: venerable when he for a slave into its bosom, for "God sent him blesses, and venerable when he punishes a to save much people alive."

guilty world. Happy the prince, who, cirEgypt gloried that she was not, like other cumstanced, like Pharaoh, can roll the cares countries, dependent on the clouds of Heaven and anxieties of government upon a minister for the fertility of her soil

, and the exube- of ability and integrity like Joseph. Happy rance of her crops, but, that she derived her the people, governed by a ruler, who, himself rich harvests from the flux and reflux of her educated in the school of affliction, has learnown river. But in vain had the Nile arisen ed to succour the distressed. to the desired height during the seven suc- The beginning and progress of scarcity is cessive years of uncommon plenteousness, described in this part of the sacred history bad not the pathetic foresight of a Joseph with wonderful exactness and energy. It taught both prince and people to take ad- represents men first parting cheerfully with vantage of the favour of Providence, and to their money for food. By and by they are lay a good foundation for the time to come. reduced to part with their lands, their hope, Nothing do men so much abuse as plenty; and security, for years to come, in exchange nothing do they so soon and so severely feel for the subsistence of a day. And, at length, as want of bread. These seven prosperous reluctantly and slow, we behold them suryears seem to compensate to Joseph all his rendering liberty itself for the support of former ills. His honour is cleared, his pre- i life.

[ocr errors]

The neighbouring nations feel, with Egypt, by the addition of thirteen years ; his new the rod of God's anger; but every neighbour- name, his dress, language and manners; his ing nation is not blessed with a Joseph, capa- high station and his stately demeanour, have ble of foreseeing the evil, and of applying the effectually disguised their brother from their remedy. Canaan, in common with others, is knowledge; and Providence, determined to visited with the general calamity: and Jacob, bate them not a single iota of the humiliation who lived there, Jacob, the heir of the pro- predicted by the dreams, prostrates their mise, is ready to perish with his family for ten sheaves before the sheaf of Joseph,” lack of fool. But he ill understands the levels the ten proud spirits at their unknown promises, and the power of God, who, under brother's feet. Want makes men wonderthe pressure of any affliction, trusts to a mi- fully submissive and complying: and they racle for relief, when honest and lawful who fight against God will sooner or later means are in his power.

find themselves dreadfully overmatched. After an interval of more than thirteen Unknown by them, they stand well known years, we revisit poor Jacob's melancholy and confessed to him. At sight of them, habitation, and find him what he was from natural affection resumes its empire in his the beginning, “a man of sorrows and ac- heart, and the tide which had long forgotten quainted with grief." Behold a wound to flow, now rushes impetuously from its which time could not cure, festering in his source. He beholds ten; but where are the bosom. Behold him sinking into the grave two, more beloved and endeared than all the under a load which reason could not allevi- rest? It is impossible to conceive, much ate, nor religion itself totally remove. His more to describe, the emotions of Joseph's family indeed, greatly increased by a multi- soul on hearing tidings of his father's family: plicity of grandchildren; but that great bles- to learn that his dear, his tender parent was sing embittered and converted into a curse, still in the land of the living; surviving, so by the dreadful pressure of famine. What long, misery so dreadful; that his dear a dismal condition! Children crying for brother, his own mother's son, was alive bread, and none to give them; the wretched with him also, and in health. The sovereignparents looking at their perishing offspring, ty of Egypt, I am persuaded, never yielded and then at one another in silent astonish- him satisfaction half so sincere. ment and despair. Conscience, which had The singularity of his situation evidently probably slept quietly in better days, would suggested to Joseph the experiment which now, no doubt, awaken the bitter memory of he now resolved to make of the temper and guilt long past, and which they had endea- character of his brothers; and particularly voured to forget. The sight of their own of their disposition in an hour of trial, toward children ready to die of hunger, could not their father and Benjamin. I cannot supbut revive the dreadful recollection of the pose him for a moment actuated by sentitime, when, in cold blood, they resolved to ments of revenge. Had he been under the instarve a brother, an innocent brother to fluence of such a passion, the means of gratifideath.

cation were certainly most amply in his power. In Jacob himself, we behold a moving and But the whole tenor of his conduct shows instructive picture of every child of God, and that he was governed by a very different of that church whereof he was then the living spirit; his severity is altogether affected, the head and representative, “ troubled on every better to carry on the design which he had side, yet not distressed ; perplexed, but not formed; and the peculiarity of his behaviour in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken ; towards some of the brothers, is to be ascribcast down, but not destroyed." He “ hearded to some peculiar circumstances in the there was corn in Egypt.” He had silver history of the family, which the sacred penand gold in abundance. Despondency was man has not thought proper to record. Some only adding to the evil; he therefore rouses rigid critics, however, while they acquit his astonished sons from their lethargy and Joseph of cruelty and revenge, severely acdejection, and proposes a journey into Egypt cuse him of impiety and profanity in swearto buy food. There is no necessity so co- ing, and swearing repeatedly, " by the life of gent as that of eating. It eagerly catches Pharaoh," and that to a charge which he therefore at every prospect of relief, believes well knew not to be founded in fact. It is things incredible, attempts things impossible. not our design to undertake a justification of The ten elder sons of Jacob, therefore, set Joseph in every particular. What characont for the land of Egypt on this errand, and ter can stand throughout the test of a rigid into Egypt they came.

examination ? Sacred history exhibits men On making the necessary inquiries res- just as they are, not what they ought in all pecting the purchase of corn, they are direct- respects to be. Dark spots are most easily ed, as all buyers, both natives and foreigners discerned in the whitest garments, and foul were, to Joseph; without whom “no man blemishes in the fairest reputations. But lifted up his hand or his foot in all the land." let no sanctity of character presume to sheltThe change produced in a youth of seventeen, ler the slightest deviation from the path of

[ocr errors]



God's commandment. No; the smallest sin, serving of punishment, every thing becomes if any sin be small, is a degradation and dis- a punishment to us, either felt or feared. grace to the most sanctified and exalted And now again, the unhappy father, reckcharacter.

oning his long expected sons, as they arrive, While Joseph, the better to conceal him- finds their number short by one. "Simeon self, talks and acts like a true Egyptian, God too is not ;" and the account given of his abemploys his affected sternness and severity sence, instead of pouring balm into the to awaken the slumbering consciences of wound, is “as vinegar upon nitre." "Joseph his brothers, and to show the sons of Jacob is not, and Simeon is not,” and Benjamin is to themselves. Treated as spies, roughly demanded. To recover what he has lost, he spoken to, their most solemn protestations must risk still more. Simeon is not what he disregarded, put in prison and bound—their should be, but his kind forgiving father cantreatment of Joseph in the evil day which not think of giving him up, worthless as he put him in their power, rushes upon their is

. To lose a pious. promising child by death, memory, in all its guilt and horror, and they is painful: but the death of a thoughtless, mutually upbraid and reproach each other graceless profligate, to a parent of piety and with their barbarity," saying one to another, sensibility, is much worse. We see the disWe are verily guilty concerning our brother, tressed old man putting off, and still putting in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when off the evil day. He has more than one reahe besought us and we would not hear: son for sparing the corn which had been therefore is this distress come upon us. And brought from such a distance, and procured Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not at such a risk. Before a fresh supply can be unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child, obtained, and Simeon restored, “ the son of and

would not hear? Therefore, behold, his right hand” must be surrendered. Benalso, his blood is required."*

jamin must be taken away; and the thought This mutual and self-accusation excites in of this plants a dagger in his heart. But the the tender heart of Joseph, emotions which famine continues, necessity presses, and a he is unable to conceal." Hearing himself second pilgrimage must be undertaken. The mentioned with so much tenderness and re- account of it, however, must for the present, gret, by persons once so cruel, and in a lan- be deferred. The history swells upon us, guage which he had been long unaccustomed and we shall rather entreat your patient atto hear, the pretended Egyptian becomes in tention to another Lecture on the subject, spite of himself, a real Israelite; his bosom than hasten over a story so much calculated swells, his visage warms, the tear starts to at once to please and to instruct. But behold his eye. To prevent a premature discovery, a greater than Joseph is here. he is constrained to retire and recompose Behold Jesus, “ for the suffering of death," himself. He returns and renews the con- highly exalted,” distinguished by “ a name versation, and again assuming the lord of that is above every name," " that at the name Egypt, sets nine at liberty, binds Simeon be- of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in fore their eyes, and commits him to close heaven, and things in earth, and things unconfinement, as a hostage for their return, der the earth, and that every tongue should together with Benjamin their brother. He confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory then dismisses them loaded with corn for of God the Father."* “ All power is given their families, and provision for the way: unto me in heaven and in earth.”+ "The having secretly given orders to his steward, Father himself judgeth no man: but hath in making up the bags of corn, to deposit committed all judgment unto the Son. That each man's money in the mouth of his res- all men should honour the Son, even as they pective sack. This was not discovered till honour the Father. He that honoureth not they were considerably advanced on their the Son, honoureth not the Father which journey homeward ; when one, undoing his hath sent him.” “I am the bread of life sack to give his ass provender, observed his that came down from heaven, that a man money in his sack's mouth. Upon their ar- may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living rival in Canaan, the same thing is found to bread, which came down from heaven: If have happened to them all. Comparing this any man eat of this bread he shall live forsingularly strange circumstance with the ever: and the bread that I will give is my rest of their eventful journey to Egypt, they flesh, which I will give for the life of the discern the hand of God in it, and observing world." “ He that cometh unto me shall such an unaccountable mixture of flattering never hunger: and he that believeth on me and of mortifying events, they remain, upon shall never thirst. All that the Father the whole, perplexed and confounded. When giveth me shall come to me: and him that the mind is sore, and the conscience seriously cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”ll alarmed, dispensations of every complexion, Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to both mercy and judgment, are viewed with the waters, and he that hath no money: come a fearful eye. When we know we are de


• Pbil, ji. 10, 11. *Gen. xlii. 21, 22.

1 John v. 22, 23. § John vi. 50, 51. | John vi. 35. 37.

† Matt. xxviii. IP.

« ZurückWeiter »