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before their eyes, as an hostage for the performance of what he required; concluding, perhaps, with great seeming probability, that his father's fondness had been no less fatal to Benjamin, than it had nearly proved to himself, by exposing him to their envy and cruelty. How natural was the self-accusing exclamation which this treatment extorted from their awakened consciences!" We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us, and we would not hear: therefore is this distress come upon us.” No wonder, then, that the heart of Joseph was here so melted with pity and tenderness, that he was constrained to turn himself from them and weep!
They now return with the sad tale of their surprising adventures to their father, who at last, though with extreme reluctance, allows his beloved son Benjamin to accompany them; at the same time declaring, that if any evil should befal him, it would inevitably occasion his own death.
Notwithstanding all the self command of Joseph, the sight of the son of his own mother well nigh overcame him. However, he still controls his feelings, till he had fully accomplished the ends he had in view. Freely he forgave his cruel brothers; and, without yet discovering himself to them, generously entertains them at
his own table; distinguishing Benjamin with peculiar hospitality. Every thing being arranged for their return, he orders his silver cup to be conveyed privately into the sack of the youngest, then causes him to be seized for the pretended theft, and by way of punishment, demands him in bondage. Upon this trying occasion, how forcible is the plea of Judah in behalf of the supposed criminal! And the affecting energy of that plea is yet farther heightened, if we reflect how near was the kindred between the pleader and the judge. With what humility does Judah address himself to his unknown brother! "O! my Lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my Lord's ear, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant; for thou art even as Pharaoh." "Thou art as great and powerful, as we are low and abased: and we know that we lie wholly at thy mercy, either to spare or punish How beautifully does he then recapitulate the circumstances of their case! How generous his offer of redeeming his brother's liberty, by surrendering his own! But, above all, how affectingly does he describe the distress and anguish of Jacob their father; and how irresistible his petition to Joseph, that he would not suffer him and the rest of his brethren, by returning without their brother Benjamin, to inflict on their aged parent so much misery, and be the unhappy instruments of bringing down
his grey hairs with sorrow to the grave! Here the feelings of Joseph could endure no farther disguise. But who can adequately imagine the tumult of various passions then reigning in the breasts of these brothers! Love in that of Joseph,―and joy, fear, hope, doubt, guilt, and shame, which must at once have arisen in the breasts of his brethren, when this astounding declaration was made:-"I am Joseph your brother."-I, who am now so highly exalted above you, and from whose hands ye now receive both life and liberty, am he whom ye once hated, once envied, and persecuted,—I am that injured brother whom ye sold into Egypt. Struck with silence and amazement, the scripture says "they were troubled at his presence, and could not answer him." But the generosity of Joseph's nature immediately relieves them from their confusion, and even makes a kind apology for their cruelty," Be not grieved," he says, "nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life."
Having thus imperfectly laid before you the outline of this affecting story, let me recommend you to consider the whole of the interesting narrative as a just emblem or representation of the life of a sincere christian; who, in his passage through this world, may, perhaps, be exercised with calamities as severe as those of Joseph; and,
like him also, if his whole trust be in God,will at last happily be delivered out of them all. He may not, indeed, experience the same cruel usage from unnatural brethren, nor may his virtue be exposed to the same temptations; yet may he have to encounter many other evils, perhaps, equally distressing. His fairest hopes of happiness may be disappointed. Melancholy reverses may befal his fortunes; pains and diseases afflict his body. Malice, illnature, perfidy, or ingratitude, may rob him of his ease, and destroy his peace. The most valuable of his friends and the dearest of his relations may successively be taken from him. He may drop the unavailing tear over his children when dead; or, what is infinitely worse,his grey hairs may be brought down with sorrow to the grave, by their disobedience when living.
Yet, though all this may possibly happen, lift up your heads, ye sons and daughters of mortality, if ye are indeed sound in faith, and earnestly believe that your "Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth." It is a solemn truth, my brethren, and one which cannot be too often, or too strongly enforced, that they who are without religion— vital, operative religion, must be without hope:they have no future prospect in heaven to console their present misery on earth; for, to them, death
shall never be swallowed up in victory, nor mortal dust put on glorious immortality. "Behold, then, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish." But christians, believers in Jesus! ye who through grace have forsaken your sins, and, with sincere repentance and self-abasement, have turned to Christ as your only hope and confidence, what, though "sorrow may have filled your hearts," He, who was himself "a man of sorrows," "will not leave you comfortless," nor "let you be tempted beyond what you are able to bear." He will give you his Holy Spirit, to comfort and sanctify-sustain and guide youin this life,—and "afterward receive you to glory:" wherefore, "rejoice and be exceeding glad," for, behold, the day of your redemption draweth nigh—that day when ye shall be delivered from all the troubles and sorrows of this fallen world; and, washed from your sins in the blood of the Lamb, shall be rewarded with happiness, infinitely superior to that which either Joseph or his father experienced on their restoration to each other. Every virtuous and christian friend, whom ye loved on earth, ye shall meet in heaven. Ye shall be translated from this land of Egyptian darkness, to the mansions of everlasting light: ye shall "come unto Mount Sion, unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general