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timely provision, not for the transient and in-| to the Ishmaelites, and carried into Egypt, effectual support of a few fleeting years, but where he served Potiphar ten years, and for the eternal entertainment and felicity of remained in prison three: so that he was men, who were devoted to death, and threat-thirty, when he first stood before Pharaoh, ened with everlasting misery. Joseph em- and was raised immediately to the dignity of ployed the pressure of famine to enslave viceroy. Supposing the seven plenteous Egypt, and to subject a whole people to the years to commence immediately, he was will of the sovereign: but Jesus, armed with thirty-seven when they ended : and the seall power for our destruction, employed it cond year of famine being ended, he being only for our deliverance; and instead of then thirty-nine, Jacob and his family desinking and degrading the subjects of his go scended into Egypt; and the aged patriarch vernment, such is his love, he raises them all lived there, cherished by his son, seventeen to the dignities, privileges, and possessions years, which brings himself forward to his of the sons of God. He is the true prophet, fifty-sixth year. After his father's death he “the true light which enlighteneth every lived fifty-four years more, in all one hundred man that cometh into the world,” “ in whom and ten. So that Joseph lived in Egypt full the Spirit of God is; none so discreet and ninety-three years: a slave and a prisoner wise as he,” Zaphnathpaaneah, the true re-thirteen; a prince and ruler eighty; under vealer of secrets, who " is worthy to take the several successive monarchs: being justly sealed book," which contains the secrets of esteemed a necessary minister of state in all the eternal mind, and to open its seven seals. reigns. He died before the birth of Moses The clemency of Joseph to his unkind, un- sixty-four years, and before the departing of natural brothers, is a lively and affecting re- the children of Israel out of Egypt, one presentation of the patience, gentleness, and hundred and forty-four. And with the acmercy of Christ to his brethren after the count of his death and embalming, ends flesh, in the first instance, and to guilty, un- the book of Genesis, containing the most grateful men in general." Father, forgive ancient, authentic, interesting, and instruc-, them,” said he, as he was expiring on the tive history extant; during the space of cross, " they know not what they do.” And two thousand three hundred and sixty-nine not many days after that with wicked hands years: from the deluge, seven hundred and men had crucified and slain him, many thou- thirteen; and before Christ, one thousand sands of these very men were made to taste six hundred and thirty-five. of his grace, were admitted into his family, These things seem as a tale that is told. and exalted to a place with him on his throne. But time is hurrying on a period and an esBut we must not pursue the similitude through tablishment of things, under which Adam and every particular; it would protract our dis- his youngest son shall be contemporaries; in course to an immoderate length. Finally which intervening ages shall be swallowed then, Joseph piously referred every thing up and lost; and that only remain, which that befel him to the provident, wise, and time, and death, and the grave cannot affect, gracious destination of the Almighty: and when the cave of Machpelah shall surrender what saith Jesus? “I seek not mine own up its precious deposit ; when Abraham, will, but the will of the Father which hath Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and all the faithsent me.” My meat is to do the will of ful shall live again, and reign for ever and him that sent me, and to finish his work.” | ever. “ Blessed are they who shall eat bread “ O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup in the kingdom of God.” “ Blessed are they pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, who shall come unto Mount Zion, and unto but as thou wilt."
the city of the living God, the heavenly JeAnd thus have we finished the history of rusalem, and to an innumerable company of the patriarch Joseph: the various stages of angels; to the general assembly and church whose life may be thus calculated. He was of the first-born which are written in heaven, born in Haran, in the year of the world two and to God the judge of all, and to the spithousand two hundred and fifty-nine, where rits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus he lived till six years old. He was then re- the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the moved with the rest of his father's family blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better into Canaan, where he lived eleven years; things than that of Anel."* at which period he was by his brethren sold |
* He3. xii. 22-24.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
And there went a man of the house of Levi, and tonk to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman con
ceived, and bare a son; and when she saw him that he was a goully child, she hid him three months And when she could no longer hide him she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein: and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink. And his sister stood afar off to wit what would be done to him. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash her. self at the river, and her maidens walked along by the river's side : and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child; and behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children. Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, shall I go, and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Go. And the maid went, and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages: and the woman took the child, and nursed it. And the child grew, and she brought him unlo Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son : and she called his name Moses, and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.—Exodus üi. 1-10.
If the ingenious fictions of ancient bards, force, described the characters and lives of afford an innocent and rational amusement, the patriarchs from Adam to Joseph, is now and be therefore held in high estimation; entering on his own wonderful and interestwhat superior obligation is the world under, ing story. The man who henceforth acts, is to that divine Spirit who has vouchsafed to the same who writes: the events which he is draw into light the most remote antiquity, about to record, come not from the informaand preserve from oblivion the venerable mention of others, but from his own immediate who first cultivated and peopled the earth; knowledge; and the simplicity and candour and, in the language, not of fiction, but of of his narration are sufficient vouchers of its truth, has delineated the ways of Providence, truth and faithfulness. and unfolded the deep and intricate recesses Sixty-four years had now elapsed from the of the human heart? Were it not for the death of Joseph, and one hundred and thirtysacred pages of divine revelation, we should four from the descent of Jacob into Egypt: have been entirely ignorant of what hap- and what surprising changes have taken pened in the world for at least one half of its place! A little band of seventy persons is duration. But borne on the wings of inspi- multiplied into a great nation: the mild and ration, we fly back to the very birth of nature, gracious prince who took pleasure in cherishwe behold the first dawning of light scatter- ing and protecting the father and brethren ing the gloom, and converse with the first of Joseph, is exchanged for a jealous and man whom God created upon the earth. And sanguinary tyrant, determined to depress and how much more pleasant, as well as profit- extirpate their descendants: the country able, is it, to expatiate in the field of real which once gave them support and shelter, history, than to wander and lose ourselves in is now moistened with their tears, and with the idle regions of romance! If we owe much the blood of their infant offspring; and fato the illustrious poet of Greece, for his amus- voured guests, made to dwell in the best of ing pictures of early life and manners, how the land, are turned into odious slaves cordeeply are we indebted to the more illustrious demned to the furnace. Such are the alterJewish historian and poet, who has furnished ations which time is continually producing us with so much juster and more exalted ideas in human affairs, such the impotency of man of Deity, more faithful and instructive pic- to secure blessings to his posterity, such the tures of human life; and who has so success- misery of a people subjected to the will of a fully interwoven the history of redemption despotic sovereign. with that of mankind.
In vain do men dream of national geneThe sacred book which has afforded us rosity and gratitude-they exist not : in vain during the year past, so much pleasing in- do the claims of humanity and justice oppose struction, is altogether extraordinary in its themselves to the interest, the ambition, or kind, whether we consider the beauty of the caprice of princes. Joseph had very unwisely composition, the importance of the informa- contributed to the aggrandizement of the tion which it contains, the internal marks of Egyptian monarchs, and his own family is authenticity which it bears, or the noble pur- the first to feel the rod of that power which poses to which it has been, and may be made he had helped to raise. Injustice in princes subservient. Moses, its inspired author, who is always bad policy. A nation so certainly has with so much accuracy, elegance, and I favoured of Heaven as Israel was, must have
proved the strongest bulwark to Egypt, if pregnant, should be miraculously preserved, treated as friends. Increased from seventy and raised up by Providence to the glorious souls, to six hundred thousand men, besides and important work of delivering the seed of women and children, it was dangerous to Abraham from their present misery. And irritate them, and difficult, if not impossible indeed, this fact is countenanced and supto subdue. Too proud to enter into treaty ported by the short hints which scripture has with them as allies, too timid to attempt their given us of the subject. Among the other extirpation by open force, and too suspicious instances of victorious faith, recorded in the to confide in their gratitude and attachment, eleventh chapter of the Hebrews, that of the Pharaoh adopts the barbarous policy of un- parents of Moses is marked with honour and dermining their strength by excessive labour; approbation by the Apostle. • By faith Moof breaking their spirit by severity, and of ses, when he was born, was hid three months preventing their future increase, by putting of his parents, because they saw he was a to death their male children as soon as they proper child, and they were not afraid of the were born. Such a state of things was very king's commandment."*. It is not unreasonunfavourable to marrying and giving in mar- able to suppose, that their faith might have riage. Nevertheless marriages were con- some particular promise or intimation from tracted, and children procreated; for it is Heaven to rest upon, absurd as it is wicked, for any earthly power The time at length came that she should whatever to set itself to counteract the great be delivered ; and she brought forth a son, plans of God and nature. God has said, “ in- according to the same historian, without the crease and multiply;" in vain has Pharaoh usual pains and consequent weakness of childsaid, "abstain." Amram, of the family of bearing; by which means no foreign aid being Levi, accordingly, in these worst of times, required, concealment was rendered more takes to wife Jochebed of the same tribe, in- easy, and the exertions of the mother in bedeed his own father's sister, by whom he had half of her child, were scarcely, if at all, inthree children; Aaron, probably born before terrupted. “A goodly child" is the modest the bloody edict for destroying the males was language which Moses employs in describing published; Miriam, whose sex was a protec- himself: “exceeding fair," or fair to God, tion from the rigour of it, and Moses, who that is, divinely fair, is the stronger exprescame into the world while it was operating sion of St. Stephen, in his recapitulation of with all its horrid effects.
this period of the Jewish history. From Josephus in his Jewish Antiquities relates, which, without the fond encomiums of prothat about the time of the birth of Moses, one fane authors, we may conclude, that Provi. of the Egyptian seers informed the king that dence had distinguished this illustrious pera child was about to arise among the Israel son from his birth, by uncommon strength, ites, who should crush the power of Egypt, size, and beauty. Every child is lovely in the and exalt his own ation to great eminence partial eye of maternal affection: what then and splendour, if he lived to the years of ma- must Moses, the wonder of the world, have turity: for, that he should distinguish him- been to his enraptured parents ! But the self above all his contemporaries by his wis- dearer the comfort, the greater the care, and dom and virtue, and acquire immortal glory that care increasing every hour. Not only by his exploits. He farther alleges, that the the child, and such a child, was continually king, instigated by his own fears of such an in jeopardy, but certain and cruel death was event, and by the cruel counsels of the seer, hanging every instant, by a single hair, over issued the bloody decree which must be an the heads of all who were concerned in the eternal blot upon his memory.
concealment; nay, the salvation of a great The distress of Jochebed upon finding her- nation was at stake; nay, the promise and self pregnant, is to be conceived, not de- covenant of God was in question. scribed. The anxiety and apprehension natu In the conduct of these good Israelites, the rally incident to that delicate situation, must parents of Moses, we have a most instructive have been aggravated by terrors more dread- example respecting many important particuful than the pangs of child-birth, or even the lars of our duty. They teach us, that no cirloss of life itself. As a wife and a mother cumstances of inconveniency, difficulty, or in Israel, she was looking and longing for the danger, should deter us from following the birth of another man child; but that sweet honest impulses of our nature, or from comexpectation was as often checked and de- plying with the manifest dictates of religion: stroyed by the bitter reflection that she was and, at the same time, reprove that would-besubject to the king of Egypt; that if she bare wise generation of men among us, who, from a son it was for the sword, or to glut some I know not what reasons of prudence, or monster of the river. The Jewish antiqua- others which they dare not avow, defraud rian informs us, that the anxiety of the pa- their country, the world, and the church of rents was greatly alleviated by assurances God, of their due and commanded increase. given to the father in a vision of the night, Their faith in God, employing in its service that the child with whom his wife was then
• Heb. xi. 23