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sheba, where Jacob dwelt, being considera- | dreamer cometh.” Well has our blessed
Our tender affections are now strongly ex- and let us slay him; and cast him into some cited for the hapless youth. A lad of seven- pit, and we will say, some evil beast hath teen, who had never till now been from be- devoured him: and we shall see what will neath the protection of paternal care and become of his dreams."* That there should tenderness; whose face " the wind of Hea- have been one of the ten capable of conven" had never hitherto “visited too rough- ceiving and suggesting such a deed of hore
y;" whose spirit mortification had never ror, had been wonderful; but that only one galled, whose heart affliction had never yet of ten should rise up to intercede for the unpierced ; thrown at once into the wide world, happy victim, exceeds all belief. We almost missing his way in an unknown country, ex- lose the remembrance of Reuben's filthiness, posed to savage beasts, or more savage men; in his good-natured attempt to save his brocoming at length to the place of his destina- ther. If there were something of deceit in tion, but disappointed of finding what he the proposal which he made to the rest for this looked for there; and finally falling into the purpose, it was on the side of virtue, and calls hands of butchers, where he expected bro- at least for pardon, if not for commendation. thers. If ever there were an object of com Joseph was now at hand. And O how dif. passion, it is now before us. I'observe his ferent his reception from what he fondly exyoung heart flutter with joy, when, after all pected! “They stript Joseph out of his his wanderings and anxieties, he descries his coat, his coat of many colours that was on brothers, and their tents, and their flocks afar him. And they took him, and cast him into off. I see the tear of tenderness rush to his a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no eyes, while he delivers his father's greeting, water in it.”+ With truth has the wise and tells the tale of his youthful sorrows and man said, “ the tender mercies of the wicked mistakes upon the road. I see his blooming are cruel.” The demons of envy and revenge countenance flushed with delight and satis- have taken possession of their hearts. In vain faction, at the thought of being again among he weeps, in vain he prays, in vain employs friends, of having once more a protector. the tender names of father and brother, to Ah cruel, cruel disappointment! They have win their pity. The coat, the odious coat, been plotting his ruin, they have devoted him the badge of a partial father's fondness, steels to death. He comes to them with words of their breasts. They strip it off with more peace, with kind and affectionate inquiries of savage joy than ever the doating parent after their health and prosperity. They meet felt of satisfaction in seeing him put it on, or him with looks of aversion, with words of the hapless youth himself in wearing it. The contempt and hatred, with thoughts of blood. horror of being cast alive into a pit to perish
The history of Jacob's family exhibits a with hunger, is not to be conceived, much shocking view of manners and of society at less expressed. What must it then have that period. They digest and execute a plan been to a heart like Joseph's, tremblingly of murder, with as much coolness as we alive to the keenest sensations of pain ; acwould an improvement in agriculture, or an quainted, till then, only with gentleness and adventure in trade. It is no wonder the poor indulgence, and now dreadfully awakened to Shechemites found no pity at their hands, perceive the full extent of his misery? Inwhen they are so lost to the feelings of na- stant death had been mercy to one in such a ture, humanity, and filial duty, as to deliber- situation. ate and determine, without ceremony or re As if they had done nothing, they sit down morse, upon their own brother's death. The unconcernedly to eat bread. Savage montrifling incident of the dreams lies rankling sters! Could the moderate cravings of their in their bosoms. “Behold,” say they, “ this * Gen. xxxvii. 20. Gen. xxxvii. 23, 24.
own appetite fail to remind them of the ants of him whose "hands were against every wretched state of their poor brother; fail to man, and every man's hands against him," suggest the misery of perishing for want, and he is safer with wild Ishmaelites, than and to awaken compassion in some gentle with bloody, unnatural brothers. From avabosom? Yes; with his piercing shrieks yet rice, if not from pity or affection, they will sounding in their ears, with his piteous, sup- treat him kindly, that they may dispose of plicating looks yet before their eyes, they him to advantage. So much better is a merindulge the commonest, lowest cravings of citul, or eyen a mercenary stranger, than an their own nature, and calmly consign him to envious and cruel brother. Reuben, it apa lingering death; the bitterness of which pears, was not present at this consultation, was every instant increased by the slowness bargain, and delivery. He probably stole of its approach. And now, behold the dar- away, when the rest sat down to meat, that ling of Jacob on the very brink of despair; by a round-about path he might arrive at the when Providence, wiser than they were cun- pit where Joseph was hid, and assist him in ning, and more powerful than they were effecting his escape, while the rest were wicked, interposes for his deliverance. otherwise employed. But he had made so
It was so ordered of Heaven, that a tra- large a circuit in order to avoid suspicion, velling company or caravan of Ishmaelitish that the sale was transacted before he came merchants passed by, while they were at to the place, and his benevolent intention dinner, in the course of their traffic to Egypt. was thereby frustrated. He is the only one A thought occurred to Judah, whose heart of the brothers who seems to have felt a sinnow began somewhat to relent, that an op- gle spark of pity for the unfortunate youth, portunity offered of ridding themselves of or of concern for the distress of his aged patheir hated rival, without incurring the guilt rent. What then must his anguish have been, of shedding his blood; namely, that of selling when he came to the pit, and found no Joseph him for a slave to the. Ishmaelites; who, he there? From his worst fears however he is knew would carry him along with them into soon relieved, and, bad as it was, rejoices to Egypt, sell him over again for profit, and hear that Joseph was only sold for a slave. thereby for ever prevent the possibility of By common consent it is agreed to conhis return, to detect their villany, and renew ceal, if possible, the whole of this dark scene. bis pretensions to superiority over them. They must meet their father again, and to
No sooner was this proposal made than it him something must be said for the non-apwas assented to. And they, who a little pearance of his amiable, his beloved son. 'I while before made nothing of taking away am not more shocked at their first purpose of their brother's life, with less scruple and cere- blood, than at their artful device to cover it, mony still, take upon them to rob him of his and their awful steadiness and fidelity to liberty; and, as if he had been a bullock, or each other, in guarding so well the dreadful a kid from the flock, sell him for twenty secret. It proves what deep, what deterpieces of silver, into the hands of strangers. mined, what thorough-paced villains they O the wonder-working hand of God! The were. And from such men does the Jewish circumstances which lately seemed to poor nation glory to have sprung! They stain Joseph so untoward and unfavourable, were the variegated coat, the cause of so much working together for the preservation of his jealousy, with blood, which they intend shall life, and paving the way to glory. Had he pass with the wretched father for the blood not wandered in the field, his arrival had of him that wore it; and they send it to Hehappened too early for the passing by of bron as accidentally found in the field in that these merchants to save him. Had he found state, to carry its own doleful tidings with it. his brethren in Shechem, as he expected, in I cannot accompany this fatal pledge to stead of Dothan, he had been out of the track the place of its destination. Who can bear which his deliverers took. “Who can tell to witness the anguish of a miserable old what is good or evil for a man," till the end man sinking under the weight of accumucome, and the mystery of Providence be un-lated wo? All his former griefs admitted folded? These, to the eye of man, are little of consolation. They were more directly accidental circumstances. But they are a from the hand of God, they were in the course part of a vast arrangement, made by Him of nature, they might be cured or endured. who worketh all things after the counsel of But this stab was mortal; it defied medicine, his own will," to bring about a great pur- it mocked at length of time. He hiniself pose. There are wheels almost impercepti- has had the principal hand in this great evil; ble in the great machine, which the untutored and I fear, I fear he suspects the truth, though eye is apt wholly to overlook, but which are he says it not. Beautiful, too much beloved, indeed as necessary to motion as the largest ill-starred Rachel ! once I pitied, now I conand most obvious.
gratulate thee. A gracious Providence has Thus was the jewel of his father's heart in kindness taken thee away from the evil to vilely bartered away as a thing of little value. come. The sight of Joseph's vesture dipped Behold Joseph in the hands of the descend- in blood, must have proved fatal to thee,
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 sesafely 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 eep before Midianites to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his and captain of che 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. f Heb. ii. 10. IGen. 1. 20. $Ps. XXXIII. IL
HISTORY OF JOSEPH.
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 overseer 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. 246.
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 moderabermine the question, it is necessary to know tion is estimable, which, awake to all the ad. the 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 flatter 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, affords 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. 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. Båt 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 bis 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
stances which peculiarly disposed them to
* Gen. xxix. 9.