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SERMON men in Israel who have not bowed the knee to
The aged, and the unfortunate, who have toiled through an unsuccessful life with long experience of the falsehood and fraud of evil men, are apt to be the most severe in the opinions which they entertain of others. For such, their circumstances may be allowed to form some degree of apology. But if, in youth and prosperity; the same hard suspisious spirit prevail ; if they who are beginning the career of life set out with all the scruples of distrust; if, before they have had reason to complain of the world, they betray the diffidence of a jealous, and the malignity of a censorious mind ; sad is the presage which may thence be drawn of their future dishonour. From such, you have nothing to look for that shall be either engaging in private life, or respectable in public character. To youth it particularly belongs to be generous in sentiment, candid in opinion, undesigning in behaviour, open to the most favourable construction of actions and conduct. Throughout all the * Kings, xix. 13.
stages of life, candour is one of the most SERMON honourable distinctions of the human cha- X
an chide un racter : it is connected with magnanimity; it is justified by wisdom; it is suitable to the relation in which we stand to one another. But if reason and humanity be insufficient to restrain us from rash and uncharitable judgments, let that awful denunciation frequently resound in our ears, He shall have judgment without mercy who hath shewed ne mercy.
GENESIS, xlv. 5. 8.
yourselves that ye sold me hither; for God
SERMON IN this generous manner, Joseph frames XI.
an apology for the unnatural behaviour of his brethren. He extenuates the atrocity of their crime, by representing the happy effects which it had produced. He looks beyond all second causes; and recognizes, in the wonderful events of his life, the hand of the Almighty. No human character exhibited in the records of Scripture, is more remarkable and instructive than that of this
patriarch. patriarch. He is one whom we behold SER MON tried in all the vicissitudes of fortune ; from XI. the condition of a slave, rising to be ruler of the Land of Egypt; and in every station acquiring, by his virtue and wisdom, favour with God and man. When overseer of Potiphar's house, his fidelity was proved by strong temptations, which he honourably resisted. When thrown into prison by the artifice of a false womán, his integrity and prudence soon rendered him conspicuous, even in that dark mansion. When called into the presence of Pharaoh, the wise and extensive plan which he færined for saving the kingdom from the miseries of impend. ing famine, justly raised him to a high station, wherein his abilities were eminently displayed in the public service. But in his whole history there is no circumstance so striking and interesting, as his behaviour to his brethren, who had sold him into slavery. The moment in which he made himself known to them, that moment at which we are now to contemplate him, was the most critical one of his life, and the most decisive of his character. It is such as rarely occurs in the course of human events; and is cal. VOL. II.
SERMON culated to draw the highest attention of all
who are endowed with any degree of sensibility of heart. Let us consider the sentiment which Joseph utters in the text under two views, each of which is very instructive to all Christians. 1. As a discovery of his cordial forgiveness of his brethren ; and, II. As an instance of his dutiful attention to the Providence of God.
I. The most cordial forgiveness is here displayed. I shall not recapitulate all the preceding history respecting Joseph and his brethren; as it is well known by every one who has the least acquaintance with the sacred writings. From the whole tenor of the narration it appears, that though Joseph, upon the arrival of his brethren in Egypt, made himself strange to them, yet from the beginning he intended to discover himself; and studied so to conduct the discovery as might render the surprise of joy complete. For this end, by affected severity, he took measures for bringing down into Egypt all his father's children. They weré now arrived there ; and Benjamin among the rest, who was his younger