« AnteriorContinua »
condition; obliged to relinquish all his honours, and to quit the splendor and gaiety of a court, for a scene of forrow and distress, in a dark and loathsome dungeon. But the firm and honest mind feels no change of place or condition; is equally happy, because equally good, in affluence or penury, in a palace or a prison. Jofeph carried with him riches that could not be alienated, a freedoin that could not be enthralled, a conscience void of offence. He who has this companion, will always have a still nobler and more able friend, even his great Creator, as Jofeph had. The Lord, we read, was Still with him, and Mewed him mercy,
gave him fatour in the fight of the keeper of the prifon. The minds of such men are seldom softened into compaflion, cr open to the dictates of humanity; their hearts are, for the most part, from being constantly used to the fight of distress, callous and infenfible: but there is a native beauty in the face of innocence which wins the affection of the most obdurate; and a dignity in virtue, which commands respect and deference from the molt abandoned. Joseph seemed born to rule and direct wherever he appeared : infomuch that the keeper of the prison committed to Josepll's hard, all ihe prisoners that were inz the prilor ; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was 2:nder his hand, because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper. B
Joseph, however, was still a captive, confined to a sphere infinitely beneath his exalted talents, which called for a nobler field to expatiate in : and an accident foon happened, designed no doubt by the Providence of God, which gave him an opportunity of difplaying that extraordinary knowledge and wisdom, which God had so liberally bestowed on him. The chief butler and baker of Pharaoh's household had offended their malter, and were both committed (probably on fufpicion of fraud in their several offices) to the same prison where Joseph lay. These men dreamed each of them a dream.
The cause, nature and efficacy of dreams, hath ever been, and will always continue to be, matter of such doubt and uncertainty, as greatly to puzzle and perplex the underItandings of men. It is fufficient on the present occasion to remark, that whilft God did himself graciously condescend to govern his chosen people, he frequently thought fit to reveal his will hy this method; and that the interpretation of dreams was one of those marks by which his favourite servants were generally distinguished : of this Joseph is a fufficient testimony. To him the unfortunate prisoners applied for an interpretation of their dreams; à talk which he performed with so much judgment and penetration, as to leave no doubt that (as he before informed them) it must come of God, the whole being exactly and literally fulfilled; for the
butler, as Joseph had foretold, was, in a very few days after, restored to his place, and the baker punished with that death which he most probably had deferved.
And here it may not be amiss to observe, as a remarkable circumstance, that God, in the case before us, ordained the same cause to be productive of two effects directly opposite. Joseph's first dream, concerning his future superiority over his brethren, occafioned his slavery in Egypt; and his second was the apparent instrument of all his good fortune and advancement.
There is likewise another occurrence in this narrative which should not be passed
When Joseph interpreted the butler's dream, he desired, that as soon as he should be reinstated in his master's favour, he would make mention of him to Pharaoh, and release him out of the prison. The butler, notwithstanding, when he became great, thought no more of his friend; but, as great men generally do, entirely forgot him. Too exact an image and representation this of the ingratitude of half mankind, who, when exalted to wealth and power, seldom remember the poor and deftitute, even though they had been, like Joseph, the instruments of their advancement, and the cause of all their affluence and prosperity.
God thought fit to exercise the patience, and to try the fidelity of his servant, by detaining Jofeph in the prison two years longer; B 2
when an accident happened, which, fortunately for Joseph, refreshed the memory of this ungrateful courtier. Pharaoh, King of Fgypt, dreained two dreams, which troubled him exceedingly, and applied for an interpretation of them to all the magicians and wife men in the kingdom ; but in vain, for none of them could interpret the dreams. Then it was that the butler, who had so long forgotten Joseph, began to recollect his obligations to him on a similar occasion. He relates to Pharaoh what had happened two years before in the prison, and mentions the extraordinary fagacity of Joseph in his interpretation of the two dreams, which were both so exactly fulfilled.
At length the wish’d-for period arrived, which was to put an end to the affliction, and break the chains of this illustrious sufferer. Pharaoh, pleased, no doubt, at this welcome intelligence, fends immediately for Joseph out of prison. Aiud Pharaoh said unto 12@ph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard Jay of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. sind Jofeph answered Pharaoh, Jaying, it is not in me: God Mall give Pkaraoh un aufwer of peace.
Observe the meekness and humility of the heaven-directed Prophet. He doth not boast of his skill, or attribute any thing to his own penetration and sagacity. It is 110t in me, says he : God shall give thee an answer. Mo
desty is the inseparable companion of merit; and true knowledge and wisdom are ever attended by lowliness and diffidence. Pharaoh, as if from this amiable diftruft of his own skill he had conceived a fill more favourable opinion of it, relates his dreams, and desires an interpretation of them. Both the dreams and the interpretations which relate to seven years of plenty and seven of famine, are so well known to every cne who reads the Bible, that I need not here repeat them, but proceed to the effects which this circumstance produced, and the alteration which it made in the affairs of Joseph. The excellent judgment and penetration which he discovered on this occasion was of the utmost consequence to Pharaoh, as no less indeed than the safety and prosperity of his whole kingdom depended on it. Joseph had not only foretold that a famine would ensue, but pointed out also the means of preventing all the evils naturally attendant on so dreadful a calamity. In the time of plenty he provided against want, and in the summer of abundance and prosperity, laid up against the penury of approaching winter. He would not suffer the corn, which remained over and above that which was necessary for present consumption, to be exported to foreign coun, tries, but very wisely and providentially kept it at home.
Joseph was certainly entitled, for such fa. lutary advice, to all the favour and protec