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' روس و سرور -
سایا ما را در آذر زرین (ر) .
And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren,
and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families.
WHOEVER reads the Bible at all has read the history of Joseph. It has universally attracted attention: and, without doubt, there is not one, but many points in it, which deserve to be noticed. It is a strong and plain example of the circuitous providence of God, that is to say, of his bringing about the ends and purposes of his providence by seemingly casual and unsuspected
That is a high doctrine, both of natural and revealed religion, and is clearly exemplified in this history. It is a useful example, at the same time, of the protection and final reward of virtue, though for a season oppressed and calumniated, or carried through a long series of distresses and misfortunes. I say, it is a useful example, if duly understood, and not urged too far. It shows the protection of Providence to be with virtue under all its difficulties : and this being believed upon good grounds, it is enough ; for the virtuous man will be assured that this protection will keep with him 1 and through all stages of his existence -living and urg he is in its hands ; and for the same reason that I atompanies him, like an invisible guardian, through TIL it will finally recompense him. This is the
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true application of that doctrine of a directing Providence, which is illustrated by the history of Joseph, as it relates to ourselves-I, mean as it relates to those who are looking forward to a future state. If we draw from it an opinion, or an expectation, that, because Joseph was at length rewarded with riches and honours, therefore we shall be the same, we carry the example further than it will bear. It proves that virtue is under the protection of God, and will ultimately be taken care of and rewarded: but in what manner, and in what stage of our existence—whether in the present or the future, or in both-is left open by the example; and both may and must depend upon reasons in a great measure unknown to and incalculable by us.
Again: the history of Joseph is a domestic example. It is an example of the ruinous consequences of partiality in a parent, and of the quarrels and contentions in a family which naturally spring from such partiality.
Again: it is a lesson to all schemers and confederates in guilt, to teach them this truth, that when their scheme does not succeed, they are sure to quarrel amongst themselves, and to go into the utmost bitterness of mutual accusation and reproach, as the brethren of Joseph, you find, did.
Again: it is a natural example of the effect of adversity, in bringing men to themselves, to reflections upon their own conduct, to a sense and perception of Imany things, which had gone on, and might have gone on, unthought of and unperceived, if it had not been for some stroke of misfortune which roused their attention. It was after the brethren of Joseph had been shut up by him in prison, and were alarmed, as they well might be, for their lives, that their consciences, so far as it appears, for the first time smote them: "We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw
the anguish of his soul when he besought us, and we would not hear." This is the natural and true effect of judgements in this world, to bring us to a knowledge of ourselves; that is to say, of those bad things in our lives which have deserved the calamities we are made to suffer.
These are all points in the history: but there is another point in Joseph's character which I make choice: of as the subject of my present discourse; and that is, his dutifulness and affection to his father. Never was this virtue more strongly displayed. It runs like a thread through the whole narrative; and whether we regard it as a quality to be admired, or, which would be a great deal better, as a quality to be imitated by us, so far as a great disparity of circumstances will allow of imitation (which in principle it always will do), it deserves to be considered with a separate and distinct attention.
When a surprising course of events had given to Joseph, after a long series of years, a most unexpected opportunity of seeing his brethren in Egypt, the first question which he asked them was, "Is your father yet alive?" This appears from the account which Reuben gave to Jacob of the conference which they had held with the great men of the country, whilst neither of them, as yet, suspected who he was. Joseph, you remember, had concealed himself during their first journey from the knowledge of his brethren; and it was not consistent with his disguise to be more full and particular than he was in his inquiries.
On account of the continuance of the famine in the land, it became necessary for the brethren of Joseph to go a second time into Egypt to seek corn, and a second time to produce themselves before the lord of the country. What had been Joseph's first question on
the former visit was his first question in this,-" Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake; is he yet alive? And they answered, Thy servant, our father, is in good health; he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads and made obeisance."
Hitherto, you observe, all had passed in disguise. The brethren of Joseph knew nothing who they were speaking to, and Joseph was careful to preserve the secret. You will now take notice how this affected disguise was broken, and how Joseph found himself forced, as it were, from the resolution he had taken, of keeping his brethren in ignorance of his person. He had proposed, you read, to detain Benjamin. The rest being perplexed beyond measure, and distressed by this proposal, Judah, approaching Joseph, presents a most earnest supplication for the deliverance of the child ; offers himself to remain Joseph's prisoner or slave, in his brother's place; and, in the conclusion, touches, unknowingly, upon a string which vibrates with all the affections of the person whom he was addressing. “ How shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.” The mention of this circumstance, and this person, subdued immediately the heart of Joseph, and produced a sudden, and, as it should seem, an undesigned, premature discovery of himself to his astonished family. Then, that is, upon this cir
. cumstance being mentioned, Joseph could not refrain himself, and, after a little preparation, Joseph said unto his brethren, “ I am Joseph.”
The great secret being now disclosed, what was the conversation which immediately followed? The next word from Joseph's mouth was, “ Doth
yet live ?” and his brethren could not answer him : surprise
had overcome their faculty of utterance. After comforting, however, and encouraging his brethren, who seemed to sink under the intelligence, Joseph proceeds
, “ Haste ye, and go up to my father, and
go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: and thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, and there will I nourish thee (for yet there are five years of famine), lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty. And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, : and of all that ye have seen : and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither.”
It is well known that Jacob yielded to this invita tion, and passed over with his family into Egypt. 2011
The next thing to be attended to is the reception which he there met with, from his recovered son. “ And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen ; and presented himself unto him, and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face; because thou art yet alive.” Not content with these strong expressions of personal duty and respect, Joseph now availed himself of his power and station to fix his father's family in the enjoyment of those comforts and advantages which the land of Egypt afforded in the universal dearth which then oppressed that region of the world. For this purpose, as well as to give another public token to his family, and to the country, of the deep reverence with which he regarded his parent, he introduced the aged patriarch to Pharaoh himself
. " And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh : and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.” The