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perfect peace,” says Isaiah, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." And in another place,—"Thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell with him that is of a humble and contrite spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” “I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him.” But mark ! — the same inspired writer declares, that “the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.”
« There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” And O! may He, whose sanctifying influence can alone give efficacy to the “Word preached,” incline you, my
christian hearers, to receive the word of exhortation now delivered unto you, “with all readiness of mind !” May it indeed prove to you “the Word of salvation !”—may it sink deep into all your hearts, and lead you so to acquaint yourselves now with God,” that ye "peace”-even peace 'unto your
souls, both here and hereafter, through Him, who is emphatically called “the Prince of Peace,”— even Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate !
ON THE CHARACTER OF JOSEPH.
GEN. XXXIX. 2.—“ The Lord was with Joseph: and he
was a prosperous man."
In the sacred history, of which these words are a part, we know not which most to admire,the beautiful simplicity with which it is told, the affecting tenderness with which it abounds, or the interesting extremes of joy and grief, so rapidly succeeding each other, which it discloses. In short, every sentiment is awakened, that can arise from the endearing relations of brother, son, and father: the inmost workings of the human breast are made manifest, and nature herself is revealed in unadorned and artless majesty.
To be fully convinced of this, we must have recourse to the holy page itself, since any other words than those which are adopted by the sacred historian, would render the narration less beautiful and affecting. It will however be necessary, in order to the more easy application of it to my present purpose, to lay before you a faint sketch of its most material and leading parts.
The patriarch Jacob, after having been exercised in early life with a variety of trials, was, in his more advanced years, blessed with a numerous offspring, to all of whom he was a fond and indulgent father. But Joseph more particularly engaged his affections; not merely because he was the son of his most beloved wife, and the child of his old age, but also on account of the peculiar ingenuousness of his disposition. That endearing circumstance had so distinguished him from his brothers, as to win for him his father's greater favour and indulgence. His brethren, therefore, moved with envy by this injudicious partiality, and also by certain dreams which Joseph had related, indicating his future superiority over them, entered into a most unnatural conspiracy to take away his life. An opportunity was soon afforded for attempting to execute their wicked purpose.
While they were feeding their flocks in Shechem, the aged father, with a fond anxiety, said to Joseph, “Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with their flocks, and bring me word again.” Joseph instantly obeyed. And no sooner did they see
him approaching, but they said one to another,
Behold, this dreamer cometh: now, therefore, let us slay him and cast him into some pit.” But the workings of nature in two of his brothers prevented the others from carrying their horrid barbarity to its meditated extent: Reuben, by a well-meant stratagem, saved him from immediate death; and Judah delivered him from a painful and lingering one, by prevailing on them to take him out of the pit into which they had cast him, and to sell him as a slave to some merchants who were passing by on their way to Egypt; by whom he was again sold to Potiphar, the captain of Pharoah's guard. Potiphar was soon so much charmed with the fidelity and prudence of the young stranger, that he presently advanced him to be the overseer of his house, and trusted him so unreservedly, that “he knew not aught he had save the bread he did eat."
Joseph had not long enjoyed this respite from his late misfortunes, before a new one assailed him, arising too from the same cause from which the former sprang—his beauty and virtue. For, his mistress, who found herself too weak to rob him of his virtue, resolved, in revenge for her disappointment, to deprive him at least of his liberty, if not of his life : she therefore procured his imprisonment, by laying a charge against him, the entire reverse of truth. After a long confinement, the fame of his extraordinary and supernatural wisdom at length reached the ears of Pharaoh; who not only delivered him from prison, but also, observing him to possess many remarkable qualities deserving of so high a trust, advanced him to be his prime minister, and the absolute dispenser of all his favours.
During this his unlooked-for elevation, his brethren were sent by their father, in a time of famine, to buy corn in Egypt; and, in common with all others that came upon the same errand, were introduced to the presence of Joseph. The difference of dress, the alteration which age, after a lapse of years, had made in his person, the place where they found him, and above all, his present elevated rank, naturally contributed as much to conceal him from the knowledge of his brethren, as the sameness of their dress, their language, and general appearance, made them known to him, who had not left them till they were all at their full stature. Yet, in order to bring them to a just sense of their cruelty to him, and to obtain from them a true account of the condition of his absent father and brother Benjamin, he suppresses the immediate struggles of nature, speaks roughly to them, accuses them of being spies, puts them in confinement three days, and then dismisses them with a positive injunction to bring Benjamin to him ; at the same time, taking Simeon from them, and binding him