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II. To shew the wisdom of God in the permission of sin. And I will in the first place begin with some instances that are more plain and easy, and afterwards proceed to what is more intricate and difficult.
1st Instance. And to begin with the affair of 70seph, there needs little to be said, to shew the mani. fold wisdom of God in it; for it does not appear that God could, as things were circumstanced, have taken a better method for the advancement of Joseph to be governor over all the land of Egypt, than this. It was a method suited to humble Joseph, and wean him from the world, and bring him to an entire resignation to God, and dependence upon and devotedness to him ; and to prepare him for so high a station, that in it he might conduct with all fidelity to Pharaoh, and humility, goodness, and condescension to all around him-to the honor of the God of Israel, and to the reputation of true religion, in the midst of a people sinking down fast into idolatry and wickedness. It was a method suited to give him a high character in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all Egypt ; as one dear to the great God, full of wisdom and benevolence, and the fittest man in Egypt to be so highly advanced and so far betrusted. From a poor prisoner, he rose soon to so high a character, and was so highly esteemed, as to become a father to Pharaoh, and to all Egypt.
Nor does it appear that, as things were circumstanced, God could have taken a better method than this to provide for the sustenance of Jacob's family....of the Egyptians, and of the nations throughout the land of Canaan, through a famine of seven years' continu
It was a method suited to dispose Pharaoh and all Egypt to receive Jacob's family kindly, and give them a hearty welcome ; as they were the kindred of Joseph, their great benefactor. It was a method suited to humble Joseph's brethren, and not only to bring them to repentance for their sin, but to a bet
ter temper in general. And as the selling of Joseph had been matter of severe trial to Jacob, who verily thought him dead, and expected to go down to the grave sorrowing ; so, in the issue, the whole was suited abundantly to establish him in the belief of the being and perfections of God, and of his government of the world ; and to give him an affecting, ravishing sense of the holiness, wisdom, goodness, power, and faithfulness of the God of Abraham, his father; and to confirm him in the expectation of the accomplishment of all God's promises. And, in the mean time, ,' the Egyptians, and all the nations inhabiting the land of Canaan, were provided for with food through a long and sore famine, in a manner suited to convince them of the vanity of their idols, and to bring them to an high esteem of the God of the Hebrews, to whose kind interposition their whole support was owing. And thus God left not himself without witness, in that dark and benighted age of the world, when all the nations were sinking fast down into idolatry. For the whole affair of the selling of Joseph....of the conduct of his mistress....of his unshaken virtue....of his imprisonment....of his interpreting the dreams of his fellowprisoners....of his being brought to Pharaoh's court and interpreting his dreams....of his advancement, and of all his conduct in that high station, would naturally be noised abroad, not only throughout all Egypt; but also through all the land of Canaan, from whence they daily came into Egypt for bread ; yea, the news of these things would be apt to Ay far and wide among all the nations round about, to the glory of the true God, and to the honor of the true religion, and to the condemnation of an idolatrous world, who had forsaken the Lord Jehovah,and gone after idols that could neither see, nor hear, nor help.—All which good ends, and many more, God had in view. Wherefore,
Although Joseph's brethren acted a very wicked, cruel, God-proyoking part, in selling their brother,notá
withstanding all his cries and tears, and the anguish of his soul, with an envious, malicious, and impious in. tention to prevent the accomplishment of his divine dreams, scoffingly saying among themselves, “ And then we shall see what will become of his dreams :" Yet, at the same time, the God of Abraham acted tru, ly like himself, a noble, a God-like part, in letting them take their course, with a design to over-rule it, as he did, to accomplish his dreams ; and that in a way so much to his own glory, and so much to the general good. And how know we but that the infinitely wise Governor of the Universe, when he permitted angels and man to fall, and things in the intelligent system to take such a course as they have, designed to over, rule the whole so (according to a plan he had then in view), as that, in the issue, God should be more exalted, and the system more holy and happy than if sin and misery had never entered?
But to proceed to a 2d Instance of the wisdom of God in the permission of sin. Sometime after Joseph's death, when the children of Israel were greatly multiplied, there arose another king in Egypt, who knew not Joseph, nor paid the least regard to his memory..., whó, to enrich himself, attempted to bring the Israelites into a perpetual bondage; and to that end set task-masters over them, who made them serve with rigor. And, observing how exceedingly they multiplied, lest they should be come too numerous and potent, and get themselves up out of a land in which they were so abused, Pharaoh ordered the midwives to kill their male children, But the midwives proving unfaithful to his injunctions, he laid his commands on all his people in general, to take
every male child and cast it into the river. All which was inhuman and barbarous to the last degree.
As God had provided for the kind entertainment of the Israelites, by the means of Joseph, whom he sent
* Exodus 1.
before them, so he could have provided for the continuation of their tranquillity, and restrained Pharaoh from this tyrannical conduct : But he chose to bring all these distresses upon them, to wean them from the idols and pleasures of Egypt..., to make them mindful of the promised land, and to prepare them for their approaching deliverance, and for their wildernesstravels. Therefore, he wisely let Pharaoh take his
For the Israelites were so kindly received in Joseph's day, and so generously provided for, that they began after a while to forget the land of Canaan, and feel themselves at home, and fall in love with the customs and idolatries of Egypt: And had it not been that Pharaoh attempted their slavery, and treated them with so great severity, there would have been danger of their forgetting the God of their fathers totally, and incorporating at length with the Egyptians ; so that they greatly needed these distresses to make them willing to leave Egypt, and discern the goodness of God in their deliverance, and to awaken them and their posterity, in ages then to come, to a sense of their great obligations to God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt,and out of the house of bondage.*
Besides, at the same time that God, by the cruel tyranny of Pharaoh, was preparing the Israelites for their deliverance, he also over-ruled his barbarity to give an occasion of raising them up a deliverer. For Pharaoh having ordered all the male children to be cast into the river, Moses's mother, after having concealed him three months, durst keep him no longer, and so left him in an ark of bulrushes, at the side of the river, to the mercy of the cruel Egyptians. Here Pharaoh's daughter finds him....is touched with compassion..., relieves the poor weeping infant.--Andnow Moses is called the “Son of Pharaoh's daughter," and is educated in Pharaoh's court, and instructed in - all the learning of Egypt; and, finally,completely fur
* Exodus XX. 2.
nished for the glorious work designed him. For Fharaoh seeking Moses's life, he was obliged to flee to the land of Midian ; where, in the solitary life of a shepherd, he spent forty years, until he became the meekest man on earth. And being thus endowed with an extraordinary measure of human learning and of divine grace, God sends him to deliver his people, who had been groaning under their sore bondage above one hundred years. “O, the depth of the knowledge and wisdom of God !"
The very methods which Pharaoh, in his great policy, takes to bind down the Hebrews in perpetual slavery, God over-rules, to prepare them for and to bring about their deliverance. And while Pharaoh is hurried on in his schemes, by his insatiable avarice, and indulges to barbarous cruelty, God, the infinitely wise superintendent, calmly looks on, and lets him take his course, conscious of his own Almightiness, and haying his own glorious plan all before him. And how know we but that this same infinitely wise Being, who has had the government of the Universe in his hands from the beginning, had some noble, God-like design in view, when he first permitted sin and misery to enter into the world which he had made ?
But to proceed to a 3d Instance of the wisdom of God in the permission of sin.
Pharaoh, full of a sense of his own greatness and power, and of the advantages which would accrue to him from the labors of so many servants, no sooner perceived Moses's design, but he firmly resolved never to let Israel go. And when Moses assured hin that the God of the Hebrews had appeared to him, he bid defiance, not only to Moses, but to his God. “I know not the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.” And the more Moses insisted upon their release, the more his pride and covetousness wrought For his honor's