Imatges de pàgina


at such power and prosperity as to have any dominion over them: the event, notwithstanding was, we shall fee, directly opposite to what they had expec?ed, as the state of fervitude to which Joseph's brethren reduced him, proved the foundation of all his happiness. Thus doth the providence of God always work in secret for the preservation, and for the reward of the inno. cent.

There passed by, says the scripture, Midianites, merchant-men; and they drew and lift up. Jofeph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.

There were, it seems, at that time upon earth, men as void of feeling and humanity as in our own times; men who made no scruple, for the sake of worldly profit, to buy and sell their fellow-creatures; and these merchants thought, no doubt, that a young and beautiful slave (for such Joseph was) would prove no disagreeable or unprofitable commodity in Egypt, whither they were going.

The practice of vending flaves, continued to this day, hath, we see, at least the plea of antiquity; and perhaps this is the only plea which it can boast in its favour. In those days of darkness and ignorance, we cannot be so much surprised to find this horrid custom established amongst the idolators of Egypt: but surely to consider that it is still prevalent, even among those who profess them


felves the followers of Christ, must be mat. ter of admiration and astonishment; and we cannot but lament, that this shocking remnant of barbarism and inhumanity could ever take place, and still more, remain in a Chris tian community. The practice, however, doth still fubfif, to the shame of our holy religion, and the disgrace of our nature.

But to proceed: When Joseph's brethren had thus sold him into Egypt, it became necessary for them to conceal it from their father, who they knew would not fail on their return to cnquire after him; they made no scruple, therefore, of adding falsehood and deceit to injustice and inhumanity. When men once deviate into the paths of fin, there is no going backwards; every step they take plunges them deeper into guilt, and swells the measure of their iniquity; it was easy for them to invent a tale, which, from its probability, would be readily believed. They took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid, and dipped the coat in the blood, and brought it to their father, and said, This hare we found; know now whether it be thy fon's coat or no. This fable bore with it all the marks of truth, and was received as such by the unfortunate Jacob; and he said, It is fon's coat: an evil beast hath devoured him. His heart was fo pierced with this sudden and dreadful calamity, that he rent his cloaths,

his loins, and mourned for his son. A darling child torn from


and put

fackcloth upon

him in a manner so shocking, was more than his age could support: he would admit of no confolation, but gave


up to his sorrows; and all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refujed to be comforted; and he said, for I will

g? down into the grave unto my fon mourning.-Thus his father wept for him, whom we must now leave in his affliction, to accompany the unfortunate captive Joseph, now fold into Egypt, unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of his guard.

The flattering dream that had promised Joseph such extraordinary good fortune seemed now but ill accomplished; a state of penury and servitude in a foreign land was, to all outward appearance, but an indifferent omen of future power and prosperity; very different, however, was the fate he met with, from that which he had reason to expect.

The history delivered down to us hath to the account of Joseph's extraordinary good fortune, fubjoined also the reason and cause of it. The Lord was with Joseph; and therefore, no doubt, he was a prosperous man.-God muft be the fountain and foundation of every good : little would all his industry and integrity have availed, if the Lord had not been with him, to discover and to reward, to incline the heart of his master, and secure his favour and protection. Except the Lord build the house, the labour is but vain of him that buildeth. But Joseph gained the love and regard of the Almighty, because he de.


served it: no sooner was he settled in the service of Potiphar, than he resolved to perform punctually and diligently all the duties of his station; such was his honesty, truth, and assiduity, that he recommended himself in the strongest manner to his master, so as to gain his entire confidence and esteem; and his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to proper in his hand; infomuch that he made him over seer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.

So agreeable was Joseph's conduct and behaviour to the Divine Being, that we find the Almighty extending his mercy not only to Joseph himself, but to his master also: the Lord blessed the Egyptiar's house for Joseph's Jake ; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. Of so great price and estimation are honour and integrity in the eyes of God, that he frequently even spareth the wicked for the sake of the righteous : how noble an incitement is this to the practice of virtue! with what pleasure must her followers reflect, that it may be in their power, by a steady and upright conduct, to save not themselves only, but their fellow-creatures also; their rela. tions, friends, kindred, country, all that have any affinity or connection with them! Thus may the good and faithful servant, like Jofeph, preserve a whole family; thus may the pious and religious fon plead with his almighty Creator for his profane, negligent,



or irreligious prrent; and thus, on the other hand, may the just and conscientious parent atone, in some measure, for the folly or im." piety of a profligate and rebellious child : thus, to rise ftill higher, may private virtue insure public happiness; and the single ún. biaffed honour and integrity of one upright counsellor contribute to the safety, and secure the prosperity, of a whole corrupted nation.

Here then let us stop, as it were before the palace of Pharaoh, and contemplate with an eye of astonishment the extraordinary fate of the happy Joseph; raised from the lowest and most abject condition, to a state of affluence, honour, fplendor, and profperity; courted, beloved, and respected ; the darling of an affectionate master, the favourite of a powerful monarch, the envy and admiration of all beholders.

Can we pass over an incident so striking and fo remarkable without many a grateful, many a serious reflection, on the gracious providence of God, which thus calleth good out of evil? May we not, and ought we not, when we consider the history before us, to call to mind some parallel instances of his beneficence towards us ; fome circumstance of our life wherein that accident or misfor, tune, which seemed big with ruin and destruction, hath turned out in the end to our benefit and advantage ? This should teach us to remember, that we are all in the hands of a kind and beneficent Creator, who watch


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