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thy counsel determined before to be done."* mit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him, “ Because the foolishness of God is wiser and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall than men: and the weakness of God is strong- bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and er than men.” “This cometh forth from thy judgment as the noon day. The steps of the Lord of Hosts, which is wonderful in a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he counsel, and excellent in working.” I “Trust delighteth in his way.' Acquaint now in the Lord, and do good, so shalt thou dwell thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. De- good shall come unto thee.”+
In all thy light thyself also in the Lord, and he shall ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct give thee the desires of thine heart. Com- thy paths.”I
Acts iv. 27, 28. t1 Cor. i. 25. Isa. xxviii. 29. * Psalm xxxvii. 3–6. 23. | Job xxii. 21. Prov. iii. 6.
HISTORY OF JACOB AND JOSEPH.
So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the
way. And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their faiher; and told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not. And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived. And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive; I will go and see him before I die.GENESIS xlv. 24-28.
If there be such a thing as pure and per- brethren, hastens their return homeward, and fect joy upon earth, it is that which fills the dismisses them provided with every accomheart of a parent, when he hears of the wis- modation for the safe and comfortable redom, the virtue, and the prosperity of a dar- moval of their aged father, and their tender ling child. If there be sorrow that admits children. What a triumph was Joseph's! not consolation, it is the sorrow of a father, What a glorious superiority! the triumph of for the vice or folly of an ungracious, thank- Heaven, the superiority of God himself, who less son, and for the misery in which he has " overcomes evil with good.” But he is unplunged himself. The patriarch Jacob felt able to conceal the partiality of his affection both of these in the extreme. He had now to Benjamin. As he distinguished him at lived to the age of one hundred and thirty table by a five-fold portion, he distinguishes years; and had proved all the bitter variety him at parting with a more splendid and of human wretchedness. Every change of costly present than the rest, consisting of condition he has hitherto undergone, is only three hundred pieces of silver, and five the sad transition from affliction to affliction. changes of raiment. In a wardrobe of great The burthen at length becomes too heavy to value and variety, a considerable part of anbear, and we see a miserable old man sink- cient magnificence consisted. This we learn ing into the grave under the accumulated both from scripture, and from profane authors. weight of woes insupportable. In parting Samson proposed as a reward to him who with Benjamin, he had yielded up his last should expound his riddle, “thirty changes stake, and renounced all hopes of happiness of garments.” Naaman the Syrian, among in this world; calmly looking forward to that other valuable commodities, carried "ten peaceful region where the wicked cease changes of garments," as a gratification to from troubling, and where the weary are at the prophet from whom he expected the cure rest."
of his leprosy.
Under the first Roman emBut the full estimate of human life cannot perors, this vanity and extravagance were be made till the scene be closed. The shades carried to such an excessive pitch, that the of night at last begin to disperse, and the day Prætor Lucullus, according to Plutarch, his dawns. While he is tormenting himself in biographer, had two hundred changes of apCanaan, with the apprehension of never see- parel; and Horace insinuates, in one of his ing more his last, his only remaining hope, epistles, that by some the luxury was carried Providence is maturing in Egypt a gracious to the enormous extravagance of five thoudesign in his behalf, which is in a moment to sand suits. And it is, without doubt, to this turn his sorrow into joy.
ostentatious profusion, the apostle James alJoseph having discovered himself to his ludes, when he thus censures the abuse of
wealth, “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and not always such as we wished and expected: howl for your miseries; your riches are cor- but they are ever seasonable, ever suitable, rupted, and your garments are motheaten." and they compensate in a moment the pain
But was it wisely done, sage governor of and misery of a whole life. Egypt? was it wisely done, thus to scatter But is it not late in life to undertake such the seeds of jealousy and envy in hearts so a journey ? No; it is to see Joseph, to be susceptible of these dreadful passions? Have joined unto him; to be an eye-witness of his you forgot the coat of many colours, the dan- grandeur, and a partaker of his liberality. gerous badge of your father's fondness to How often has Egypt sheltered and nourishyourself? Have you not rendered your own ed the church of God! Abraham, Joseph, advice necessary, “See that you fall not out Jacob, Moses, Jesus Christ himself, there by the way?" Happily, the recollection of successively found protection.
The same past disasters, and the kind behaviour and place, according as Providence ordains it, is gentle admonition of their affectionate bro- either a trying furnace or a refuge and sancther, have subdued their boisterous spirits, tuary. A king that knows Joseph is a nursand attuned their hearts to love. The anxie- ing father to Israel; another arises who knows ty of the old man for their return is better to him not, and he wastes and destroys. But be conceived than described. How often in our patriarch was not merely following the a day would his fond eyes turn to the way impulse of natural affection, though that had by which Benjamin was expected back? been warrant sufficient for even a still greatHow would the tardy hours linger, as the er removal ; he is also obeying the dictates heart languished with hope deferred? At of wisdom, in making a prudent provision for last the blessed moment arrives, the train ap- his numerous and increasing family, and he pears; the number complete, Benjamin safe, is listening to a special call and encourageSimeon restored. But what can this mean? ment from Heaven. Before he leaves CaInstead of eleven men driving their asses la- naan, probably for ever, he visits Beer-sheba, den with corn, a splendid retinue, the glory the chosen and favourite residence of his faof Egypt, the wagons of Pharaoh! The ther; and there he renews his covenant with heart that has been long inured to affliction, God by sacrifice. Those enterprises are most interprets every appearance against itself
. likely to succeed, those comforts to afford Some things are too good, others too evil to most genuine satisfaction in which God is be hastily credited. The utmost height of seen, acknowledged, and enjoyed. The saJacob's expectation was to behold his young-crifices of the devout by day, are answered est son again, with a supply of corn for his by the visions of the Almighty in the night starving family. But to hear that his long season. A man can proceed with cheerfullost, his much lamented Joseph was still ness and confidence, when he has got his living, that he was the ruler of all Egypt, the Maker's permission. saviour of a great nation, the father of a The vision assures him that he should armighty prince, O! it is, it is too much. Na- rive in safety, should prosper in Egypt, should ture tottering under a load of wo, now sinks embrace his son, and that “ Joseph should put and faints under an excess of joy. Such ti- his hand upon his eyes," that is, perform the dings are too flattering to be believed. last offices of filial duty and humanity. We
Did the brothers now disclose the whole meet with the same expression and idea in of the mighty secret, and take shame to many passages of the heathen poets. Penethemselves for their vile conduct to so excel lope, in Homer, prays that Telemachus her lent a father, to so amiable a brother? Or, son may close her eyes, and those of his fatrusting to Joseph's generosity, did they con- ther Ulysses. The mother of Euryalus in ceal the part which they had acted in this the Æneid, among many other bitter expresstrange, mysterious drama ? Probably the sions of sorrow over her dead son, laments latter is the truth. The soul shrinks back that she was denied the wretched consolation, from the discovery of its own wickedness. since he must die before her, of pressing To confess, and condemn themselves, could down his dying eyes. Human nature thus do now no good, and must greatly have strives to outlive itself
, and the heart, while marred and diminished their aged parent's it is yet capable of feeling, consoles itself satisfaction, if indeed he had no suspicion with the hope of receiving marks of tenderhow the case stood. The good man has been ness and attachment after it can feel no more. so long a stranger to felicity, that the possi- The old man's heart is now at rest, he is actbility of it is called in question; that slowly ing obedience to the command of Heaven, he and cautiously he yields to the sweet demon- is complying with one of the worthiest prostration. Convinced, satisfied at length, what pensities of nature. He is indebted for the joy is equal to the joy of Jacob? Is it not commodiousness with which he travels, to worth wading through a sca of trouble, to the person whom on earth he most dearly come to such a shore at length? The bless- loved, and to whom, of all others, he would ings of Providence are well worth waiting most willingly be obliged. for. They may seem to linger : they are How different the patriarch's situation,
every different journey he undertakes? His this prince, and with pleasure we repeat it. first was to Padan-aram, when he fled from We see him nobly striving to discharge soine the face of an angry brother. Then he was part of the mighty obligation which had been solitary and friendless, but free from care, laid upon him and his whole kingdom, by the free from sorrow. The second, flying from son of the patriarch, by showing all possible unkind relations back again to Canaan, rich kindness to his father's house. “And Pharaoh in children, rich in cattle, but troubled in spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and spirit, oppressed with anxiety. And now we thy brethren are come unto thee: the land of see him the third time in motion towards Egypt is before thee, in the best of the land Egypt, richer than ever both in possessions make thy father and brethren to dwell, in the and in prospects, but bending under the pres- land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou sure of age, and its concomitant infirmities, knowest any men of activity among them, worn out with calamity, and almost dead to then make them rulers over my cattle." joy.
The interview between the venerable man The family of Jacob, including the addition himself, and this good prince, is highly inteof what Joseph had gotten in Egypt, now resting and instructive. Old age and virtue amounted to seventy souls. And the priest are honoured with the kind regard and atof On's daughter, whose alliance was doubt-tention of a king. Royalty is instructed, adless intended as an honour to Joseph, is ho- monished, and blessed by the wisdom of the noured and ennobled by being ranked in the sage, by the miseries of the man, by the piety family of Jacob, and by having become a mo- and prayers of the prophet. Who gains by this ther in Israel.
visit? Pharaoh, to be sure. His kingdom is Scripture describes in its own inimitable strengthened by the accession of seventy manner, the meeting between the father and good subjects, with their skill, industry, and
“ And he sent Judah, before him unto wealth: and “the effectual, fervent prayers" Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and of holy Israel were, surely, Pharaoh himself they came into the land of Goshen. And being judge, compensation sufficient for the Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up poor subsistence which a decayed, dying old to meet Israel his father, to Goshen; and man received from his bounty. presented himself unto him: and he fell on It is with a mixture of shame and sorrow, his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. that we bring forward the next passage in And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me the history of Joseph. It exhibits him indeed die, since I have seen thy face, because thou as a most exquisite politician, who thoroughly art yet alive."* This is honest nature, this understood the interests and the passions of is the genuine language of the heart. mankind; who knew perfectly well how to
In Joseph we see filial piety and fraternal take advantage of the occasion ; but, over-deaffection happily blended with wisdom, humi- voted to the prince who had advanced him, lity, and discretion. His will was law in employing his exorbitant power, his superior Egypt. To what honours, preferments, and skill and address, in planning and perfecting emoluments, might not the brothers and ne-a system of despotism, by which the whole phews of the governor-general have aspired ? property of Egypt, together with the persons But he consults their true happiness, by guard- and liberties of all that mighty empire, were ing them at once from the languor of idle-transferred to the sovereign. We behold ness, and the madness of ambition. Shepherds him most ungenerously seizing the opportuthey were bred, and shepherds let them con- nity, which the growing distress of a lengthtinue. Violent transitions ill suit the staid ened famine afforded him, to aggrandize one and serious periods of human life.
at the expence of millions. He first conveys His behaviour as a subject of Pharaoh is all the money in the land into the royal treaequally amiable and praiseworthy. He never sury. The cattle speedily follow. The inloses sight of the duties of his station, never creasing miseries of another unfavourable becomes arrogant and assuming, in the con- season, determine the wretched proprietors fidence of royal favour. “Without him no to part with their lands for food, and even man lifted up his hand or foot in all the land;" reduce thein to the dreadful necessity of ofbut without Pharaoh's consent he will not fering to sell themselves for slaves, that they dispose of a single field to his nearest rela- might live by their master's bounty. It is tions. He is too wise, and too good, to make true, the prime minister of Pharaoh did not the mad attempt of some upstart favourites, push his advantage to the extremest length. to overcome national prejudices by dint of But it must be acknowledged, he carried it power and authority. The Egyptians held much farther than became the friend of mithe profession of a shepherd in contempt, and sery, and of mankind. With so good a man he is not silly enough to dream of forcing it as this Pharaoh, perhaps absolute power into respect.
might be lodged with some degree of safety; We have already taken occasion to praise but who shall answer for other Pharaohs who the gratitude, generosity, and attachment of may arise, with the awful ability of doing
* Gen. xlvii. 5, 6.
• Gen. xlvi. 28-30.
mischief; possessing authority unfettered by change! How exquisite the happiness which legal restraint; possessing power not prompt- fills every faculty of the soul, and whose ed by goodness, not tempered by mercy, not measure is eternity! But though Jacob be deigning to stoop to the sacred rights of man- satisfied to live and to die in Egypt, he feels kind? Do we not see, in the hardships which and expresses the natural desire of all men, under the following reign the posterity of that his ashes should rest in death with the Israel endured from Egyptian despotism, the venerable dust of his forefathers. Perceiving danger of extending regal authority beyond therefore in himself the decay of nature, and the limits of reason ? And thus, in the justice the approach of dissolution, he sent for his of Providence, the family of Joseph first felt beloved son, and bound him by a solemn oath the rod of that tyranny, which, with his own to carry his dead body to the cave of Machhands, he had established and aggrandized. pelah; that he too, in death, might become Absolute sway can never be deposited with an additional pledge to his family, that God safety in any hands, but in his, who is con- would in due time make good to them that stantly employing his power for the salvation possession of Canaan which he had promised. of men, not their destruction. But we turn Having obtained this security, his heart is from a scene, which it impossible to con- at rest; and for himself he has no further template without both regret and resent- worldly concern. But the symptoms of apment; happy to reflect, that we live in a proaching dissolution are now upon him, country, where law, not will, is the rule of sickness, weakness, and loss of sight. All government; where the strong voice of royal the authority and wealth of Egypt cannot reprerogative is drowned and lost, in the stern- pel these irresistible invaders. Old age is a er, louder proclamation of, “ Thus it is writ- disease which death only can cure. But, ten." We hasten from the vast, depopulated even in old age and death, Jacob's early afregions of state politics, to the pleasanter, fections are his constant and remaining ones, fairer fields of private life.
Rachel and Joseph, and his two sons, Ephraim Jacob's last days are by far his best. Seven- and Manasseh. So long as the vital fluid teen years of unruffled tranquillity he passed visits his heart, the memory of his beloved in Egypt, enjoying the most pure and com- Rachel vibrates upon it. The last beams of plete of all human gratifications—that of his expiring eyes seek for her image and rewitnessing the prosperity, and experiencing presentative, her son and grandchildren: and the attachment of a favourite and dutiful even Benjamin seems, for awhile, forgotten. child. But how comes it to pass, that periods Soon that wounded heart shall beat no more, of happiness shrink into so little a measure and those weary eyes shall close in everlastin description, while scenes of wo lengthen ing peace. themselves out both to the sufferer, and to The sickness of his father being reported the relator? We record our mercies on the to Joseph, he instantly quits every other emsand of the sea-shore, which the washing of ployment, and, attended by his two sons, every wave smooths again, and the perishing hastens to visit him to receive his last dying memorial is obliterated and lost. Calamity commands, his dying paternal benediction, we engrave upon the rock, which preserves and to cherish and soothe his departing the inscription from age to age.
spirit with that cordial of cordials, filial But the famine has long been over, and tenderness and love. Though nature was why has not the patriarch thought of return- come to its lowest ebb with our patriarch, ing again to the land of his fathers? Young grace was in full springtide. men love to ramble from place to place; but of the body could not discern the nearest old age is steady and stationary. 'Removal objects, could not even distinguish the sons was attended with increasing difficulty every of Joseph, but the eye of the spirit, the spirit day, from the increase of his age and infirmi- of prophesy that was in him, penetrated ties, and from the number of his family. Be- through the shades of night, and contemplasides, Joseph's presence was become neces- ted, with clearness and accuracy, ages the sary to the government of Egypt; and to part most remote; persons, situations, and events with him again, had been much worse than the most distant. death. In a word, the whole was of the In this last and tender interview with his Lord, who was now laying the foundation of beloved son, he declares his intention to a fabric of wonders which should astonish the raise the children who had been born to him the next generation, and every future age of in Egypt, to their hereditary rank and hothe world, by the report of them. One hun- nour in Israel; and he bequeaths to Joseph dred and thirty years of wo, and seventeen a particular possession which he had acof comfort and happiness, come both at length quired by conquest in Canaan: “Moreover I to a period. Let the wretched think of this, have given to you one portion above thy and bear their affliction with fortitude; let brethren, which I took out of the hand of the prosperous consider it well, that they the Amorite, with my sword, and with my “ be not high-minded, but fear.” How dread- bow;"* deeming him entitled, and not withful is that misery which issues in despair of
* Gen. xlviii. 22.
out much appearance of reason, to the double before you," says Joseph to his brethren, “ to portion of the first born. For his mother preserve life.” “I go," says Jesus to his dis alone was the wife of Jacob's choice. And ciples, “to prepare a place for you. And if had the course of reason and justice taken I go and prepare a place for you, I will come place, he should have had no children but by again and receive you unto myself, that her. The posterity of Rachel, then, had an where I am, there ye may be also."* Joundoubted claim of preference, considering seph despatches chariots and wagons to conthat in strict equity the whole would have vey the feeble and infirm part of his father's belonged to them. At the same time he family to the land of Goshen; and supplies predicted the future fortunes of his grand- them with all necessary and comfortable children by Joseph; and, Heaven-instructed, provision by the way. It being expedient foretells, that the younger should in time ob- for Christ to go out of the world, he promises, tain the pre-eminence in rank, populousness, and he sends the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, and importance over the elder.
to show his people things to come, “to lead And now nothing remained but to declare them into all truth,” saying of him, “He and publish his last will, or rather the will shall glorify me: for he shall receive of of God respecting his posterity, for many mine, and shall show it unto you. All things generations to come. But this would re- that the Father hath are mine: therefore said quire a much larger space than is now left I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it for it. And we cannot conclude our dis- unto you.”+ “Thou hast ascended on high, course without having brought Jacob and thou hast led captivity captive, thou hast reJoseph somewhat nearer to the times which ceived gifts for men: yea, for the rebellious they foresaw and foretold; and to the glori- also, that the Lord God might dwell among ous and exalted person, from resemblance to them."I “He that descended, is the same whom they derive all their dignity and con- also that ascended up far above all heavens, sequence.
that he might fill all things. And he gave Joseph sold into Egypt, degraded into the some, apostles: and some, prophets; and condition of a servant, exalted from the dun- some, evangelists; and some, pastors, and geon to the right hand of the throne, invested teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, with power, drawing his perishing kindred for the work of the ministry, for the edifying unto him, and bestowing upon them a pos- of the body of Christ. Till we all come in session “ in the best land,” still prefigures to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge us, Jesus “humbled and made of no reputa- of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto tion," " betrayed and sold into the hands of the measure of the stature of the fulness of men,” “lifted up," on the cross, and thence Christ."S to a throne above the skies: “ascending on your heart, O Christian, like Jacob's, high, receiving gifts for men,” attracting an ready to faint, through unbelief, or through elect world unto him, to give them “an in- an excess of joy? Let your spirit, with his, heritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and revive as you ponder the exceeding great that fadeth not away.”
and precious promises” of the gospel in your “Their eyes were holden, that they should soul, as you consult the sacred record, as not know him.'*—" And it came to pass as your evidence brightens up, as the first fruits he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and of the Spirit are given and tasted. From blessed it, and brake, and gave them. Canaan there is a going out, from Goshen a And their eyes were opened and they knew going out, as an entering in; but from the him, and he vanished out of their sight. Canaan that is above, there is no more "goAnd they said one to another, Did not our ing out:" " they are before the throne of heart burn within us while he talked with us God, and serve him day and night in his by the way, and while he opened to us the temple, and he that sitteth on the throne scriptures?”+
shall dwell among them. They shall hun" And when all the land of Egypt was ger no more, neither thirst any more, neither famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for shall the sun light on them, nor any heat; bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyp- for the 'Lamb which is in the midst of the tians, Go unto Joseph: what he saith to you, throne shall feed them, and shall lead them do.”! " The Father judgeth no man: but unto living fountains of waters: and God bath committed all judgment unto the Son. shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. "I That all men should honour the Son, even _"He which testifieth these things, saith, as they honour the Father. He that honour- Surely, I come quickly; Amen. Even so, eth not the Son, honoureth not the Father come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord which hath sent him.” “God did send me Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”T
† John xvi, 14, 15. † Ver. 30-32
$ Eph. iv. 10-13
* Rev. Xxii. 20, 21. .
Luke xxiv. 16.
John xiv. 2, 3.