« PreviousContinue »
dishonesty, is directly to oppofe the adminiftration of Providence-for God, if it feem fit, will either make away for his relief, or will abundantly reward him for his patience. Let him teftify, by his civility, meeknefs, quiet- nefs, that he is deferving of the countenance, of the kindness, and charity of his fuperiors. Let him be careful not to fquander what he earns, in rioting and drunkennefs, but let him endevor to provide for his family, as becomes his ftation.
And may both rich and poor conftantly reflect upon the future life, both of happiness and mifery, which awaits us; that “if we "have done good, we fhall go into life ever"lafting, and if we have done evil, into everlafting fire!"
God imprefs the awful thought so strongly upon our minds, that, in every thing we think, and say, and do, we may prepare ourselves against the dreadful day of trial!
GENESIS XLV. 28.
And Ifrael faid, it is enough; Jofeph my son is yet alive, I will go, and fee him before I die.
HERE is not, perhaps, any event recorded
by the facred, or by any other, writers, either ancient or modern, which fo, much engages our attention, and interests our feelings, as the narration delivered, with fuch beautiful fimplicity, and exquifite graces, by Mofes, the oldeft, yet unparalleled hiftorian, commonly entitled, the history of Jofeph and his brethren. It may not be an unpleafing, nor will it, I hope, be an unprofitable employment of our time, to detail the principal parts of this amusing history; as many reflections will arife which may serve to inform, admonish, direct us, in our paffage through life.
The facred writer acquaints us that Joseph; above all his brethren, was the object of his father's
father's partiality and affection. Ifrael, or, as he is fometimes called, Jacob, " loved Joseph
more than all his children;" and from this fource originated many of the forrows, which were accumulated upon him in the decline of life. Jofeph being the fon of his old age-for Ifrael was ninety-one years old when he was born-" he made hirn a coat of many colors. What but the weakness of age could have fuggefted that fond, that abfurd diftinction? The father, by an act of injudicious preference, alienated the affections of all his fons from his beloved child; " they hated him, and could "not speak peaceably," or with civility, "unto "him." In the fimplicity of his heart, he relates a dream, encouraged no doubt by Jacob's notorious partiality, which indicated his future greatnefs, and their abject humiliation-thus awakening their jealousy, and stimulating their refentment. "And he dreamed yet another "dream," prophetic of their ftill greater mortification.
The Sons of Ifrael about that time "re"moved their father's flock to Sechem. And
Chap. xxxii. 28, and chap. xxxv. 10.
"Ifrael," anxious to hear of the safety of his fons, who had justly incensed the men of Sechem against them," said unto Joseph, do "not thy brethren feed the flock in Sechem? "come, and I will fend thee unto them." Unfortunate old man! who knew not what that day would bring forth! He knew not what pangs that parting would occafion! He knew not that the fon of his old age, who had juft predicted that himself, his mother, and his brethren fhould bow themselves to him to the earth, was leaving his paternal roof, never, never to return!
In obedience to his father's command, he went in pursuit of his brethren. "And when
they faw him afar off," recollecting his fages of greatness, and folicitous to prevent the completion of them, "even before he came "near unto them, they conspired against him "to flay him." Inhuman monfters! to be fatiated only with a brother's blood! Their firft intention, dictated by jealoufy, and approved by malevolence, of "flaying him, and cafting him into fome pit to fee what would
"become of his dreams," was providentially defeated. For Reuben, hearing their fanguinary purpose, proposed, under the specious pretence of not fhedding his blood, but with the real defign of actually ridding him out of their hands, and fafely delivering him to his
father again," that they should caft him into a pit in the wilderness, which, in those countries, were frequently digged by fhepherds to hold rain water for their cattle, when they could not find a spring, and were far from a river.
His brethren, after they had cast him into the pit, fat down to eat bread. And during their repast, they perceived a company of Ishmaelites going down into Egypt. A propofition was made by Judah, not to leave him in the pit, but to fell him to the Ishmaelites, or, as they are called, the Midianites, being near neighbors, joined together in trade, and making one caravan, or company. Thus is the child, whom Ifrael loved more than all his children, in the hands of the defcendants of that man "whofe hands were against every man, and. every man's hands against him."* To exculpate themselves in the eyes of their