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opportunity just then offering itself to dispose of him without shedding blood, he said, “What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood ? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.” What a strange thing that men should be sold and bought! Prisoners taken in war have often been sold for slaves; but here brothers, under the influence of envy, sell a brother. Surely their envy was like that of the devil, who is ever restless and miserable in beholding the happiness of men. Olet us guard against this hellish principle, and carefully cultivate a spirit of benevolence and good-will, even towards our enemies ! One crime frequently begets another, and when a man falls into sin, it is difficult to say where it
When the Patriarchs had sold Joseph, to satisfy their cruel envy, they were under the necessity of inventing a lie to conceal their crime. The bloody coat was presented to Jacob, who wept, and lamented the loss of his son, supposing him to have been torn by some beast of prey. He knew the coat again, and said, “ It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon
his loins, and mourned for his
son many days." Thus they deceived their aged father; but God, who had beheld their vile conduct, could not be deceived.
II. · THE CONDUCT OF GOD TOWARDS JOSEPH
1. God was with him. It is probable that Joseph feared God before this event happened; and if so, he had the consolations of religion, when all other consolations failed. He was removed far from his pious father;, but the God of his father was with him. Distance of place often interrupts paternal kindness; but the kindness of God, our father, may be enjoyed in every place. Joseph was banished from his brethren, and from every domestic comfort ; but he could not be banished from his God. How pleasing is the thought, that the God whom we serve is not a local being, but a God who fills heaven and earth! He is with us, though we do not see his form; and we enjoy his presence, though invisible. All good men have God with them wherever they go. He watches over them both by day and by night, and condescends to be their guardian and their faithful friend. While God is with us, we cannot want : while he is with us, we need not fear. He is far better than earthly parents, and more to be desired than either wealth or friends. No doubt Joseph worshipped the God of
Jacob; and Jacob's God was with him, to accept and bless that worship. He was nigh when Joseph prayed; and he noticed the praises and thanksgivings of his vant.
2. God delivered him out of all his afflictions. Joseph had many painful afflictions in Egypt. He was tempted by a lewd woman, who, when her vile wishes could not be accomplished, blasted his character by lies and falsehood. He was cast into a dungeon. “But the Lord was with Joseph, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” There Joseph interpreted the dreams of the chief Butler and the chief Baker, his fellow-prisoners. Pharaoh “restored the chief Butler to his butlership again; and he
into Pharaoh's hand: but he hanged the chief Baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet did not the chief Butler remember Joseph, but forgot him." Afflictions attend good men wherever they go; but God delivers them. He delivered Joseph not once only, but always. He delivered him out of all his afflictions. He had lost his father; but he lived to see him again. He had been hated by his brethren; but the day came when they loved, honoured, and bowed down to him. He had been disgraced; but great honour followed his disgrace. He had been forgotten; but God caused him to be remembered. He had been in a prison; but was advanced next to the throne of Pharaoh. What wonderful changes ! What astonishing deliverances !
3. God gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Pharaoh dreamed, but neither he nor his wise men could interpret. The report of Pharaoh's dreams brought Joseph to the recollection of the chief Butler, and Joseph was sent for by the king Pharaoh's dreams, like those of Joseph, were of God; and God gave Joseph wisdom to interpret, and the interpretation gave him favour in the sight of Pharaoh. Thus all Joseph's honours were of God, who, when he pleases, can raise his servants high in the esteem of earthly monarchs.
4. And Pharaoh made him governor over the land of Egypt, and all his house. It is not often necessary for good men to be exalted in this world, but when God sees fit, how easy it is for him to exalt them! God makes men great, that they may be useful. In this instance Joseph was exalted for the good of others; he was blessed, that he might be made a blessing. In that high station, Joseph, as an instrument, saved the lives of the Egyptians. During seven years of plenty he laid up sufficient stores of food for seven years of famine.- Let the prudent foresight of Joseph teach us to lay up stores of heavenly treasure. O that we could see thousands, “ Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life!”
Joseph in his exalted station was made an instrument of saving his own family. The famine reached Canaan, and was felt by good old Jacob. The brethren of Joseph came down to buy corn, and they were amply supplied. It was on one of those journies that the prophetic dreams of Joseph were fulfilled; for his brethren “bowed themselves to him to the earth.” Jacob also came down into Egypt, and was richly provided for in the land of Goshen. “ Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families.” It is
very observable, that God often uses means to accomplish his purposes, which are very unlikely to men. Here we see a poor despised Hebrew raised to high honour and power, that he might save a great nation and a chosen family. A poor slave, a degraded prisoner, raised next to the throne of Pharaoh! Happy is the land which hath such a governor! All things prosper where wisdom and piety are found in the rulers of a nation. Happy the parent who has such a son! Happy the brethren who have such a brother! And happy, thrice happy are