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Lord, in whom the royal line terminated; in | band of Rachel, before his nerves are forever whose trial and condemnation the posterity unstrung, his eyes forever closed, his tongue of Jacob solemnly renounced all regal and forever silent, dwelling on the name of her judicial authority, and voluntarily submitted beloved offspring, turning the almost exto Cæsar as their sovereign ; and to whom, tinguished orbs towards his amiable counteProvidence, by a chain of miracles at first, nance, and straining his darling Joseph in and an uninterrupted interposition, for al- his last embrace. most one thousand eight hundred years, has He has hardly strength left to mention the drawn and united the nations of the earth, name of Benjamin. But nature, while death according to the letter of the prophesy, “ to leaves to Jacob any remainder of her empire, him shall the gathering of the people be." continues possessed of a sound memory, a We pretend not to say, that the dying patri- discerning judgment, and glowing affections. arch had a clear and distinct foreknowledge But she can no more; the voice fails, the of the object; or that his words are a full limbs contract, the breath departs, the artery historical description of the period to which beats no more; the heart of Jacob is at length they refer. It is sufficient for our purpose, at rest. if events which have certainly come to pass, The death of a parent is an event peculiarare such as warrant a sober application of ly affecting. The source of our own life them to a prediction so singular, in circum- seems thereby as it were dried up. While stances so peculiar, and at a period so remote. our parents live, we think we have a barrier
A very close investigation of the history, betwixt us and the grave : but that being recharacter, and local circumstances of the six moved, the bold invader appears advancing tribes whose fathers are next named in order, upon us with hastier strides. If we look would probably be found to justify what their forward, behold no bulwark to defend us ; if prophetic parent here foretold concerning backward, our very children are warning us them. But, with him, we hasten them by, of the necessity of our departure; they press with him to come at a nobler, dearer object; upon our heels, they are ready to lay their where parental affection fixes with peculiar hands upon our eyes. Death ever so long delight; which the understanding, the heart, expected, ever so visibly approaching, neverand the prophetic soul unite to establish, to theless shocks and surprises when it comes exalt, to enlarge.
at length. The only way to do justice to the prophet, Joseph, having given way to a burst of to the prophesy, and to the Spirit which in- sorrow over the lifeless clay of his honoured spired the one to utter the other, is simply to father, sets about the speedy execution of read the words, and then to ponder them in his solemn trust, in discharge of the oath our hearts. “ Joseph is a fruitful bough even which he had taken. The highest respect a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches we can pay the dead, is to fulfil their living run over the wall. The archers have sorely desires. He accordingly gives commandgrieved him, and shot at him, and hated him. ment to have the body embalmed according But his bow abode in strength, and the arms to the manner of the Egyptians. This pracof his hands were made strong by the hands tice, which had its origin in necessity, deof the mighty God of Jacob: from thence is generated in process of time into the grossest the shepherd, the stone of Israel. Even by ostentation, and the most absurd vanity.the God of thy father, who shall help thee, During the inundations of the Nile, it was and by the Almighty who shall bless thee, necessary to employ art to preserve dead with blessings of heaven above, blessings of bodies from putrefaction, till the waters subthe deep that lieth under, blessings of the sided. But what was at first merely a tembreast, and of the womb. The blessings of porary expedient against the inconveniency thy father have prevailed, above the bles- of heat, moisture, and corruption, at a season sings of my progenitors: unto the utmost when sepulture was impossible, by degrees bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be --refined, shall I say? in the hands of that on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of ingenious people, into a work of infinite skill the head of him that was separate from his and expense. For so silly and vainglorious brethren."* Is there an appearance of in- is the human mind, that it strives for the coherence here, is there a redundancy of gratification of pride, in objects the most expression, is there a mixing of metaphor ? humiliating and mortifying. We are far It is but the more emphatically expressive of from charging Joseph with acting from a the meltings, the overflowings of an affection- motive so wretched. The journey to Canaan ate heart, collecting its last remains of vigour, was long; it was needful to use the common retarding for a moment the stroke of death, methods, to keep the corpse from becoming returning yet once again but to return no offensive; perhaps he deemed it decent and more-to ancient feelings and propensities; wise to conform, in a matter not directly sinexpiring in the contemplation of the lasting ful, to the practice, and to yield to the prefelicity of a dearer self: the lover, the hus- judices of the people among whom he dwelt. * Gen. xlix. 22-26.
Whatever were his motives, certain it is,
that in embalming persons of distinction, as of distresses of the most disastrous and overconsiderable time was employed, and large whelming nature; he was stricken, smitten sums expended. Threescore and ten days there where the heart most sensibly feels. at least were necessary; forty in filling the But let us turn the page, and examine the body with aromatic drugs and spices, and articles which make for him. An early dethirty in hardening and drying it with salt clared, and continually supported favour and and nitre. Some Jewish writers, fond of preference of Heaven in his behalf-Early, magnifying in every thing their extraction, constant, habitual impressions of piety—The give out, that Jacob, by express order of covenant promise and presence of the AlPharaoh, was embalmed after the manner of mighty-The testimony of a conscience void the princes of Egypt, as a farther mark of of offence-The aggrandizement, and the gratitude and respect to Joseph; and that virtues of his beloved son-Seventeen years this explains the account we have in scrip- of uninterrupted quiet, with daily growing ture, of the general mourning of the Egyp- prospects of prosperity to his family, and the tians for him, during the seventy days of the consolation of expiring at last in the arms of ernbalming.
Joseph-0, the balance is greatly in his faAt the end of that period, Joseph makes your! Who shall dare to say God has dealt application to the king for liberty to go to hardly with him? We shall make Jacob Canaan, to bury his dead father. And here himself judge of the case now, and defy him we have another not unamusing picture of to say, “ All these things are against me." the ancient manners of an Egyptian court. The patriarch makes a greater figure in Joseph the saviour of Egypt, the second man death than ever he had done in his life. The in the kingdom, might not go into the royal house of Israel, the seed of Abraham is now presence in a mourning habit
. At such pains beginning to make a considerable appearance has the world been, and such pains it still in the world. Egyptians forego their pretakes, to keep truth from the eyes and the judices to do honour to the remains of the ears of kings. Unhappy wretches! How old shepherd of Beer-sheba ; and the nations can they be wise and good ? Every creature of Canaan are awakened to attention and rewith whom they are connected is in a con- spect, to a family which they hated or despiracy to keep them from the knowledge of spised. themselves. The poor man called a monarch But, while the world is conferring empty, must not see a memorial of death, because unavailing respect on the insensible dust, death brings him to the level of other men. the immortal spirit has winged its flight to Pity it is, so well conditioned a prince as those bright regions, where the faithful rePharaoh should want any help to wisdom. pose in perfect and everlasting peace; where Studious of the honour and comfort of so good the smile of God obliterates all recollection and faithful a servant, he grants an imme- of the favour of princes, and buries in eternal diate assent to his request, and permits him oblivion the pains and sorrows of a few to employ the whole pomp of Egypt, if it transitory years. If saints in glory have any might testify respect to the memory of the recollection of what passed upon earth, as honest patriarch. Mark, my friends, how undoubtedly they have, what satisfaction short the transition, how sudden the change. niust it afford the glorified patriarch to call It is but a few short years since the wagons to remembrance the various stages of his of Pharaoh were sent, with much form, to pilgrimage state, the dark and dreary paths carry Jacob into Egypt; and now the same through which Providence led him, and pomp is employed to convey his breathless which he once feared were leading him to clay back to Canaan again. Alas, alas! the destruction and death, now that he finds them ceremonies of a coronation, and of a funeral all certainly and directly tending to his Fadiffer only in a few trifling circumstances. ther's house above? If saints in glory have Jacob is embalmed by the physicians; but any knowledge of what passes upon earth, pehold he is preserved by a more precious as perhaps they may, what must it have been perfume than all the spices of Egypt—the to Jacob from the lofty height of a throne pious tears of a dutiful and affectionate child; above the skies, to mark the order and course and his memory preserved on this never dy- of Providence, in bringing to pass upon his ing record, sends forth a fragrance which family the things which were seen in protime cannot waste, nor use diminish. phetic vision, darkly, and at a distance, and
The account is now at length closed, and spoken in much weakness and obscurity? the balance struck. And how does it stand? What must it be to see the Gentile nations A life of one hundred and forty-seven years gathered together to Shiloh ; to see the glory in all; of which not above a ninth part with the sceptre departed from Judah, but a passed in any tolerable degree of peace and crown, whose lustre shall never fade, put comfort, and that portion of it at a period upon the head of Messiah the Prince? If when the heart has scarcely any taste of saints in glory have any intercourse with pleasure at all. The early, the susceptible their fellow partakers in bliss, what must it part of his life was filled with a succession have been to Jacob, after treading in the
footsteps of Abraham and Isaac his fathers, | naan, was a token and pledge to his family, to overtake and be joined to them in that that in due time they should return thither, world, where men are as the angels of God and enjoy lasting possession; the resurrecin heaven; and to see his faithful children, tion and ascension of Christ's glorious body, his Joseph in particular, gathered unto him, gives full security to all his spiritual seed, every one in his own order, their day of trial that “those who sleep in Jesus, God will also over, and their warfare accomplished ? bring with him;"_“ Christ the head first, What must it have been to all the ransomed afterwards they that are Christ's at his comof the Lord, to see their common Saviour re- ing.” The possession, of which Jacob's burial turning on high, leading captivity captive, was the pledge, was itself partial and transitriumphing over principalities and powers ? tory, was long ago forfeited, and has long If there be joy in heaven over one sinner ago expired; but the succession ensured by that repenteth, what must have been the joy the ascension of Christ, is “ to an inheritance of that day, when an elect world, in the per- incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not son of their divine Head, took possession of away." Egyptian art might keep together a throne eternal in the heavens ?
the dust of Jacob for awhile; but the power The next Lecture will conclude the his- of God, through the grace that is in Christ, tory of Joseph, and the book of Genesis, and guards every fragment and shred of it even bring down that of the world to its two thou- until now, and "will raise it up again at the sand three hundred and ninth year, one thou- last day.” The afflicted man Jacob saw the sand six hundred and ninety-five years before end of all his troubles in the friendly tomb; Christ.
Jacob, the believer, the saint in bliss, sees no Jacob, like his forefathers, died, and was end to his joy, but a still beginning, neverburied, and saw corruption ; but he whom ending eternity. “Let me die the death of God raised up died indeed, and was buried, the righteous, and let my last end be like but saw no corruption. Jacob could observe, his." To me to live let it be Christ, and then be offended with, and reprove the faults of to die it shall be gain. Let us be followers his children, but Christ has power to forgive of them“ who, through faith and patience, sins, and to change a sinful nature. The day inherit the promises." “ Be faithful unto which Jacob saw afar off, is that which arose death, and ye shall receive a crown of life.” under Jesus in all its meridian splendour, and “ The hour cometh, when all who are in their continues to shine unto this day. The body graves shall hear the voice of the Son of of Jacob, by the skill of physicians, was for God, and shall live.” “ Blessed and holy is awhile saved from putrefaction; the body of he that hath part in the first resurrection : Christ, by the almighty power of God, was on such the second death hath no power, preserved, so that not a bone of it was broken but they shall be priests of God, and of on the cross, not a particle of it lost and left Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand in the grave. The corpse of the patriarch, years. deposited in the cave of Machpelah, in Ca-l
* Rev. XX. 6.
HISTORY OF JOSEPH.
LECTURE X X X V.
And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land,
unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and len years old : and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.-GENESIS I. 24–26.
The events of a short and uncertain life the attention and pursuit of man? What is upon earth, derive all their importance from reputation? A breath of empty air; honour, the relation which they bear to a future and a bubble; riches, a bird eternally on the wing; eternal state of existence. Remove the pros- youth, beauty, health, fading flowers of the pects of immortality, and what is left worthy spring; the splendour of kings, childish pa
geantry; a crown, a toy. That alone is va- | seph, not knowing who he was, and so ful. luable which time cannot impair, nor mortality filled the dreams of his early youth, which destroy; that which, though the man die, con- had given them such mortal offence. With tinues to live and speak; that which, de-i a meanness equal to their former haughtiness, spised or neglected of men, is of high esti- they now voluntarily prostrate themselves in mation in the sight of God. If in this life his presence, and humbly deprecate that only there were hope, the happiest of man- wrath which they had so unjustly provoked. kind were a wretched, dark, comfortless What a pitiable, what a contemptible figure being. But for the consolations of religion, a man makes, overtaken and reproved by his Jacob must have sunk under the accumulated own wickedness! weight of calamity upon calamity: and Jo A little mind would have enjoyed this triseph, destitute of a principle of grace in the umph of acknowledged superiority, if it did heart, had fallen in the hour of temptation, not resort to retaliation. But a great soul or despaired in the day of adversity; had like Joseph's gives only into emotions worthy risen into pride when exalted to honour, or of itself. Seeing his father's children thus deviated into resentment and revenge when humbled before him, he dissolves into tears. armed with power. But, directed and sup- Had he been ever so much inclined to venported by this celestial guide, he descends geance, adjured by the awful names of his into the pit undejected, undismayed; spurns father and his God, his heart must have re. with holy indignation the solicitations of il- lented, and anger must have turned to pity. licit desire; preserves moderation in the But in truth, he had never harboured one height of prosperity, and sinks the resent- thought of revenge, and the offenders posments of the injured man, in the meekness sessed an infinitely better security in the geand gentleness of the affectionate brother. nerosity and compassion of their brother, than A character so near perfection seldom occurs; in the protection of their father's feeble arm, we have therefore been tempted to dwell parental authority, or frail life. Being at no upon it the longer, and now that we must variance with them, entertaining no grudge, part with it, we bid it farewell, with no little mark what pains he takes to reconcile them regret.
to themselves; “ But as for you, ye thought The last office in which we left Joseph em- evil against me, but God meant it unto good ployed, was the burial of his venerable pa- to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save rent. In this he at once acquitted a solemn much people alive. Now, therefore, fear ye obligation ; fulfilled the law of humanity, not: I will nourish ye and your little ones. gratitude, and filial duty; and acted faith in And he comforted them and spake kindly unto the covenant and promise of God given to them."* his forefathers. He is never so much an Such is the exalted triumph of true goodEgyptian, as to forget he is an Israelite; but, ness. Not satisfied with merely bestowing engaged in the duties of a son of Israel, he forgiveness, it strives to close the wounds remembers he was a naturalized Egyptian. which guilt has made: it aims not only at betHaving deposited the sacred pledge in the tering the external condition of the penitent, cave of the field of Machpelah, he and his but also at meliorating his inward frame ; it brethren, and all his retinue return into the not only proclaims peace to the offender, but land of Egypt.
likewise generously studies the means of reTerror ever haunts the guilty conscience; storing him to peace with his own conand men, whether they be good or bad, are science. This is the glorious triumph of God apt to judge of others by themselves. The himself, who overcomes evil with good, turns brothers of Joseph considered the life of their enmity into love, and obliterates the foul father as the only bulwark betwixt them and traces of undutifulness and ingratitude, by their brother's anger. Knowing themselves painting over them the fairer, softer features to be criminal, they conclude he must be re- of filialtenderness and dutiful submission. And sentful; knowing he had the power, they in no one respect can human nature so nearsuppose he must needs have the inclination ly resemble the divine, as in pardoning transto punish them. O how guilt degrades, de gression, in showing mercy, in bestowing bases the spirit of a man! In bad minds, how on the guilty outward and inward peace; and quick the transition from extreme to extreme! burying and effacing painful and mortifying How nearly allied to each other, vices seem- recollections in total and everlasting obliingly remote, contradictory, and opposite! vion. Thus Joseph comforted his brethren, These reflections are all strikingly exempli- and spake kindly unto them. This spirit a fied and illustrated in the conduct of Jacob's greater than Joseph, by precept, by example,
We see malice and cruelty passing and by the model which he prescribed for our into suspicion and timidity: insolence but a devotions, has recommended and enforced ; single step removed from fawning, flattery, and thus, by habitually drinking into it, and submission ; and bold defiance of Heaven “ men shall at length become perfect, as changing in a moment into superstitious hor- their father in heaven is perfect." ror. They had before done obeisance to Jo
* Gen. I. 20, 21.
At the death of his father, Joseph was that by entreaty and permission, which once fifty-six years old. The history of the re- he could have enjoyed by authority. His mainder, containing a period of fifty-four pious attention to the dead is now requited years more, shrinks into a few short sen- by the pious attention of the living. And tences. But they exhibit a beautiful and in- thus of all the debts contracted by us, none structive picture of a generous spirit, of is so certain of being repaid, as the last sogreat and growing domestic happiness, of a lemn offices of humanity. Here, we only capacious prophetic soul, and of a faithful, give and receive a little short credit; and obedient, and believing heart. He had the the day of our burial hastens on, with rapid satisfaction of living to see his posterity of wings, to bring the account to a balance. the fourth generation, by Ephraim his young Thus lived, and thus died, Joseph the son er son, and of the third, by Manasseh his of Jacob. A man whom all nations and every first-born. He had the felicity of beholding description of mankind, have united to praise Israel greatly inereased, and the promise of and admire. Whose character and fortunes God hastening to its accomplishment; re- the pen of inspiration has vouchsafed to designed to die in Egypt, but looking and long- lineate with singular accuracy, and with ing for a sepulchre in Canaan. Jacob's, a lite uncommon strength of colouring. Who, in of almost uninterrupted misery, is length- every stage of life, in youth, in manhood, ened out to the hundred and forty-seventh and even to old age, interests, instructs, and year; Joseph's, with the exception of a very delights every reader of taste, virtue, and few years, a scene of splendour, usefulness, sensibility. Who, in adversity, preserved and prosperity, is cut short at a hundred and inflexible constancy; and, in elevation next ten. But the difference dwindles into mere to royalty, adorned his high station by unafnothing before Him, with whom “ a thousand fected simplicity, incorruptible integrity, nayears are as one day, and one day as a thou- tive, unassuming dignity, fervent piety, insand years." Grief has its cure, usefulness variable moderation, and uniform modesty its period, glory its decay, and pride its des- and humility. Who, as a son, a brother, troyer in the grave. As his dying father a servant, a father, a master, a ruler, is held him engaged by a solemn oath not to equally amiable and praiseworthy. Who, to bury him but in Canaan, so Joseph binds his the sagacity of the statesman, added the posterity by a similar obligation to carry his penetration of the prophet, the firmness of remains, when opportunity offered, to the the believer, and the purity of the saint. sacred spot where the sleeping dust of Abra- Who, by the blessing of Providence, was ham, Isaac, and Jacob reposed. Whatever saved through dangers the most threatening, had been his power or possessions in Egypt, to pity, to forgive, and to preserve those who this is all he bequeaths to his children; his meant to have destroyed him; and who, in last, dying will, disposes of nothing but his a word, was miraculously raised up of God bones. But it is not merely the natural desire from an obscure station, to be an instrument of the man, to rest in death with his fathers; of much temporal good to nations; to mait is the zeal, piety, and wisdom of the be- ture and execute the plans of eternal Wisliever, leaving to his family a solemn pledge dom, and to typify to a dark age, Ilim who is of his dying confidence in the truth and faith- fairer than the children of men, and through fulness of God. Accordingly, the dead body whom all the blessings of nature, of proviof Joseph becomes no inconsiderable object dence, and of redemption are communicated in the history of Israel, from this time for- to mankind. We cannot therefore, as Chrisward, to their final establishment in Canaan. tians, conclude his history better, than by With much pomp it was now embalmed, with considering it somewhat more particularly, much care it was preserved in their deepest as a typical representation of the person, distresses and amfiction; in all their wander- the character, the offices, and the work of ings it accompanied them, and never, till the Messiah. they rested in the peaceable possession of We know the generation of Joseph the the land of promise, did it rest in the peace- son of Rachel, and the well beloved of Ja. ful tomb.
cob—but “ who shall declare the generaBut had the credit of Joseph declined be- tion" of the well beloved Son of God, fore his death ? Had Pharaoh died, and only begotten of the Father, full of grace Egypt forgotten to be grateful, that no royal and truth ?”. Early, unambiguous prognosmandate is issued for a spendid public inter- tics foretold the future greatness of Joseph. ment; that an affectionate nation accompa- Thus the tongues of a thousand prophets ; nies not, with tears, the son, as they did signs in heaven, and signs in earth; the the father, to his long home ? Miserable disposition of angels singly, and of a multiwould Joseph have been, had not his happi- tude of the heavenly host together, before ness rested on a surer foundation than the and at his birth, conduct the babe of Bethlesrnile of kings, or the applause of a multitude. hem from the manger to the throne. Some Who shall be vain of any thing, when such allegorists, who inquire rather curiously a man as Joseph must be content to obtain than wisely, have carried the analogy so