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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 sheep before Midianites to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his and captain of the guard. mouth."* "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."‡ 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 pleasure of resuming it with you next Lord's day.
the thoughts of his heart to all generations."} To the attentive reader of the sciptures, these, 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. Heb. ii. 10. Gen. 1.20. § Ps. xxxiii. 11.
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. 2-6. UNLESS "the heart be established by | circumstances makes no apparent impression. grace," in prosperity it will be elated above measure, and in adversity will be ready to sink under the weight of its wo. A principle of religion preserves the balance of the soul, and guards it equally from rising into insolence, or falling into dejection. It has been disputed whether prosperity or adversity be the severer trial of the two. In order to determine the question, it is necessary to know the character of the party who is tried. In some persons we meet with a stupidity, an insensibility of nature, on which change of
This endeavours to pass upon itself, and actually does pass upon superficial observers, for moderation in success, and patience in affliction. But the rock is not patient, because without murmuring it bears the incessant dashing of the raging sea; neither does the snail deserve the praise of humility, because it attempts not to fly. That moderation is estimable, which, awake to all the advantages of rank, and fortune, and success, offends not God by levity and ingratitude, nor 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 servi and of that which is to come." tude in Potiphar's house; but Joseph, pious, modest, wise, and faithful, is equally respectable whether as a son or as a servant.
The amiable and illustrious person on whose history we entered in the last Lecture, and which we are now to continue, affords a shining and affecting example of a mind unsubdued by the deepest distress, and uncorrupted by the highest degree of elevation. His affliction commenced at an early period of life. It was, of its kind, peculiarly bitter and severe. It came from a quarter whence it was least to be apprehended; and the transition was instantaneous, from a tranquillity and indulgence which knew no bound, to anguish which no language can express, no imagination conceive. As he was to be an eminent type of Him, who, "as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, not opening her mouth," scripture represents Joseph submitting to the barbarous treatment of his brothers, as doomed to perish of hunger in an empty pit, and sold into slavery to the Ishmaelites, without arguing, without upbraiding, without repining.
Were it possible to form a stronger idea of the hard heartedness of Jacob's sons than that which their cruelty to Joseph affords, it is to see them the calm witnesses of the anguish of their father's soul, without being moved by all his misery and tears to divulge the important secret, and to pour into the fond paternal heart the cordial balm, which even the knowledge of his son's being a slave in Egypt would have administered. As a dawn of hope would thence have arisen, that by some blessed revolution of events, the precious hour might perhaps at length arrive, which should restore him to his father again. What a dreadful thing it is to embark on a sea of vice! To return is difficult, if not impossible -to proceed is ruin.
Joseph, meanwhile, lives and prospers in a strange land. He has not lost all, he has lost nothing, who enjoys the divine presence and favour. The amiable youth is indeed from under the shadow of his father's wing, but the protection of Heaven is not with drawn; "the Almighty is his refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." A
Never did Potiphar make so fortunate a purchase. The blessing of God enters into his house, from the moment Joseph becomes a member of the family. In many various ways are servants curses or comforts to those with whom they dwell. Let a servant have a conscience, and you have a certain pledge of his fidelity. Divest him of that, and where is your security, that either your property or your person is safe in his hands? Joseph demeaned himself as a good servant; Potiphar as a wise and a kind master. In vain do we look for affection and attachment in our inferiors, if we treat them with insolence, unkindness, or neglect. The great and affluent are much more in the power of, much more dependent upon their meanest domestics, than they are willing to understand, or to acknowledge. And surely, it is much more prudent to secure their affection as humble friends, by condescension and good nature, than to provoke their resentment or revenge, by pride and severity.
Joseph has been faithful over a few things, he is made ruler over many things. He made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand." His personal accomplishments keep pace with his mental endowments, "he was a goodly person and wellfavoured." Beauty, like every other gift of nature, is good of itself, and therefore to be received with thankfulness. But alas, how often does it prove a snare to the possessor, and a temptation to others! This quality of Joseph's had like to have proved more fatal to him than even the envy of his brothers. This last threatened only his body, but that endangers the soul. The one sold him into bondage, the other would have plunged him into dishonour. His master's wife looked upon him with eyes of unhallowed affection, and attempts to make him a partaker of her impurity. To expatiate on the nature of this temptation, would be as indecent as it is unnecessary.
It is a fearful example of the dreadful length which the human mind is capable of going, when the restraints of shame are once broken through.
that goodness cannot mollify, what nature so obdurate that the power of the Almighty cannot reach? The profession of a gaoler 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. But 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 be satisfied by ascertaining, "whether it be sin or duty."
prison now, prospers on Joseph's account. The world is not always sensible of its obligation to the presence of good men. But Sodom was in a fearful state the moment righteous Lot went out of it; and when the people of God, "the salt of the earth," are all removed from it, the end of the world cannot be at a great distance.
The consequence to Joseph, was such as might be expected from the temper of a shameless woman, false, lascivious, and resentful. The demon of lust turned into those of rage and revenge, she accuses of an attempt 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 his 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 vindicate his own honour, by exposing the shame of a bad woman; and he leaves the clearing up of his character and the preservation of his life, to that God with whom he had entrusted still higher concerns, those of his immortal soul. And thus, the least-assuming, the shamefaced, feminine virtues, temperance, and chastity, and innocence, and self-government, are found in company with the most manly, the heroic qualities, intrepidity, constancy and contempt of death. No place is frightful to a good man but the dungeon of an ill conscience. Free from that, Joseph is at large, though in prison. It is the favour or displeasure of God that makes this or the other spot comfortable or irksome. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty; but to the guilty, the whole world is a place of confinement. God, who delivered him out of the pit accompanies him also to the prison. And what heart so savage
* Gen. xxxix. 9.
the disobedience of Pharaoh's servants, the anger of the king himself,-all, all meet, strange to think! in one point, the elevation of Joseph to the right hand of the throne. Remove but one link, and the chain is broken asunder. Take away but a single stone, and the fabric falls to the ground. But "this work and counsel is of God, and therefore it cannot be overthrown." "He willeth, and none can let it."
It is not at all surprising, that he who had been preparing his work in places and in minds so remote from, so unlike to, and so unconnected with each other, should bring it to a conclusion by means somewhat uncommon and supernatural. It happened, that in one and the same night, the chief butler and the chief baker of Pharaoh dreamed each a dream, which laid fast hold of their minds and memory. And being men, like the rest of their country, strongly tinctured with superstition, and at that time in circumstances which peculiarly disposed them to
receive superstitious impressions, their spirits | tentates of the earth, and marshals the whole are considerably affected by the vision of the host of heaven is bringing his own word to night; not doubting, that it portended the pass, and performing his own pleasure. The speedy approach of some great good or evil. chief butler, we may suppose, readily proJoseph attending them in the morning, in mised Joseph his best services when he the course of his duty, observed the deep should be again restored to place and power; concern which was engraved on their counte- but like a true courtier, he thinks no more nances; and sympathy being always one of of his promise, nor of his fellow prisoner, after the native effusions of an honest heart, he his own turn was served. So selfish, so kindly inquires into the cause of it. thoughtless, so ungrateful is man! Had he been under no personal obligation to the young stranger, for his tender assiduities while in confinement, and for the agreeable and certain intelligence which he received from him of his approaching deliverance, common humanity, awakened by the simple tale of innocence and misery which he had told, ought to have prompted his immediate and most earnest exertions in his behalf. And yet he suffers two full years to linger away, without caring to reflect whether such a person existed or not. And when he thinks of him at last, it is not the generous recollection of kindness and attachment; but the selfish remembrance of courtly adulation, eager to gratify his prince, not to rescue talents, and innocence, and worth, from unmerited oppression. Pharaoh hanged him not for the offences which he had committed against his sovereign, but for his forgetfulness and ingratitude to Joseph, let him be hung up an object of detestation and contempt to all generations of mankind.
By the way, how pleasant is it to observe this excellent young person with so much cheerfulness and good nature performing the humble offices of a gaoler's servant? He was accustomed to be waited upon, to be ministered unto; but duty calls, and with alacrity he ministers to the necessity of others. But what do I see? An under gaoler starting up all at once into an interpreter of dreams, possessing a sagacity that reaches into futurity, directed and taught by a Spirit whose piercing eye penetrates into eternity, and discerns all the wonders of the world unknown! How much wiser, how much more noble, how much more excellent, are they who live in communion with God than other men! For though they do not all attain the gift of prophesy, the gift of working miracles, the gift of speaking with tongues; yet they all are dignified by the spirit of prayer, the spirit of adoption, "the spirit of faith, the spirit of love, and of a sound mind."
Joseph, from the different complexion of How very differently do God and men often their several dreams, and inspired no doubt judge of one and the same object! If there by wisdom from above, predicts their ap- be in all Egypt a person more forlorn and proaching doom; the speedy restoration of inconsiderable than another, it is an Hebrew the one to his former trust and dignity; a slave in a dungeon. But "God raiseth the sudden and ignominious death to the other. poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out Nothing but inspiration could have borne of the dunghill, that he may set him with Joseph through a declaration so bold and de- princes." Pharaoh himself now begins to act cisive, and which was to be brought to the a part in this wonderful drama. For kings, awful test of confirmation or disappointment in the hand of God, are only instruments of in so short a space as three days. So confi- an higher order, and of more extensive opedent is he of the certainty of his interpreta- ration. Kings are liable to hunger and thirst tion, that he founds all his hopes of enlarge-like other men; kings must sleep, and may be ment upon it. And there is something inex- disturbed by dreams like other men-and pressibly tender and pathetic in his application to the chief butler to that effect, "but think on me when it shall be well with thee, and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house. For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing, that they should put me into the dungeon."*
The event justified the prediction; and it is an awful and affecting illustration of the observation of the wise man, "the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water he turneth it whithersoever he will." A youth, a stranger, a prisoner, could have no power over the counsels of Pharaoh. But the power which controls all the po
thus it happened to the mighty sovereign of Egypt. With vision upon vision, in one night, was his rest troubled; the strange coincidence and mysterious import of which greatly perplex his waking thoughts. In a country teeming with gods, and overrun with superstition, no circumstance was overlooked which in any manner seemed to portend a future event. No wonder then that the prince, who has not always the best informed nor the firmest mind of any man within his dominions, should be rendered uneasy by a repetition of dreams, so singular in themselves, so similar to, and yet so unlike one another. It is not less wonderful, that in a country so prolific of magicians and soothsayers, not one should be found bold enough to affix a meaning, or guess at an interpreta
tion. Was it that the true God confounded | describable charm in true wisdom, in unafand silenced their vain imaginations? or that fected goodness, that forces approbation, and Pharaoh, dissatisfied with their idle conjec- carries the heart captive at once. There is tures, and prompted from above to make far- a native dignity in virtue, which, while it ther inquiry, rejected the usual modes of so- never assumes, nor pushes itself forward, is lution, that, heaven-directed, Joseph might never timorous, embarrassed or awkward. emerge out of obscurity to save a great na- Joseph possesses unaffected ease and comtion, to preserve his father's house in famine, posure in the presence of Pharaoh and all the and to fulfil the prediction and promise made court; and the court on this occasion, we to Abraham, concerning the future fortunes have reason to think, was a very splendid, of his posterity? public, and crowded one. So good a thing it is to have the heart established by the fear of God. It casts out every other fear. But the days of his depression are now ended, and every step he has trod through this valley of humiliation, is a progress made to the glory that follows. And here we break off, having conducted Joseph to the right hand of the throne; and beholding him ready to mount the second chariot, while admiring nations proclaim before him, "bow the knee."
The king's vexation interests and affects the whole court. And then for the first time, the chief butler bethinks himself of his faults. and of his promise, and of his obligations to his fellow prisoner, and relates in the hearing of the king, the very extraordinary circumstances of his own imprisonment and enlargement; of his dream, the interpretation and the issue. He is of consequence led to mention the character and situation of the interpreter. This instantly effects for Joseph, what his friendship, had it been exerted, perhaps would not have produced-an immediate order to set the prisoner free, and to bring him without delay into the royal presence. When men can be subservient to the interest, the pleasure, or the ambition of princes, they are in the sure road to preferment; and a man is often more indebted for success to a fortunate incident than to a righteous cause. Joseph's affairs are now in a train such as his warmest friends could wish; and again we see another saying of the wise man verified: “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean men." 11*
Pharaoh's expectations are not disappointed. He relates his dreams; and God, the author of the visions, and who had sent the interpreter and the explanation, by the mouth of Joseph unfolds its meaning and import. Pharaoh's dream had puzzled himself and all Egypt by its first aspect; but now that it is explained, how easy, how simple, how applicable, how natural every thing appears! The greatest discoveries, after they are made, appear so obvious and so plain, that every one is ready to wonder he did not hit upon it first; and this, instead of diminishing, greatly enhances the merit of the first discoverer. Upon the manifestation of the import of Pharaoh's redoubled vision, it is found, that God, who had given formerly to two of the servants an intimation of their approaching fate, was now giving to the sovereign a premonition of the visitations of his providence, to this great, populous, and wealthy empire. A previous notice of good renders it a double blessing; a warning of evil prepares us to meet it, and thereby diminishes its weight.
Joseph's interpretation carried conviction along with it; and Pharaoh immediately resolves to act upon it. There is a certain un
* Prov. xxii. 29.
The next Lecture will exhibit the son of Jacob in all the splendour of high life; armed with all the authority of a minister of state, possessing a plenitude of power over the whole kingdom of Egypt.
Turn for a moment from Joseph, and behold a greater than him. "The prince of this world came, and found nothing in him." Temptation addressed to "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life," had from his lips an instant repulse, "it is written, it is written." "In his humiliation his judgment was taken away;" he suffered as a malefactor, though “he did no sin, neither was guile found in his lips." He was condemned and put to death upon a false accusation. From the triumphant ignominy of the cross, he dispenses life and death to his fellow-sufferers; paradise to the one, everlasting shame to the other. "Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or, being his counsellor, hath taught him?" "The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." "No man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal him." "He made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath also highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."* Fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" "To † Luke xxiv. 25, 26.
Phil. ii. 7-11.