« ZurückWeiter »
tude, which shocks the most resolute. And lastly,
Qu. What other instruction has it pleased God to
Ans. He would teach us in the second place how his providence conducts all things to the execution of his designs, and how he makes the very obstacles, which men strive to throw in their way, subservient to them. The design of God was to raise Joseph to such a degree of greatness and power, as should oblige his brothers to bow down humbly before him. Joseph's brethren opposed it; but, says the scripture, [s] There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor coun: sel against the Lord. What they did to humble Joseph was the first step, by which God leads him to elevation and glory; and the horrible calumny of his unchaste mistress, which seemed to complete his misfortunes, was the circumstance which advanced him almost to the throne.
This Joseph observes himself to his brethren afterwards, by telling then it was not they that had sent him into Egypt, but God that had brought him thither. [t] So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God. These words are great matter of consolation to such as have faith. Whatever shall be designed against them, shall become the means of securing their happiness and salvation. Secret machinations, or open hatred, captivity, or calumny, shall bring them to the point which grace has marked out for them ; after which envy and injustice shall be con1 Prov. xxi. 30.
 Gen. xlv. 8.
founded, and when they shall have settled Joseph upon the throne, they shall tremble in his
presence. Qu. What means did Joseph make use of to resist the temptation laid for him by his mistress?
Ans. We find in his conduct an excellent model of what we should do, when we are tempted. Joseph defends himself at first by the remembrance of God and his duty. How, says he, to that bold and shameless woman, can I commit such an action, who have God for my witness and my judge? It is in his sight that
you and I shall both become criminal. It is he who commands me to disobey you on this occasion. Ilow can I escape his view, or corrupt his justice, or he covered from his indignation; [u] How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? But when the temptation was become so strong, that he had cause to fear his weakness might yield to it, he betakes himself to flight, forsakes all, and exposes himself to the utmost hazard, rather than continue in such a state, as might incline hini to offend against God.
Qu. Is there no other reflection to be made upon the misfortunes and disgrace of Joseph ?
Ans. How severe and unjust soever the treatment was which Joseph was to undergo, he never let fall the least word of murmuring and complaint. He never abandoned himself to discouragement, whilst he was a bond-slave, but gave himself up entirely to the service of his master. So much leisure as prisoners have, and notwithstanding the natural inclination of mankind to talk of their own adventures, he never made a recital of his. And when under a necessity of laying himself open to the chief butler, he does it with such a moderation and charity as cannot be sufficiently admired. For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon. He neither names his brethren who had sold him, nor his mistress who had unjustly accused him. says, that he was carried away and made a slave, (u) Gen. xxxix. 9,
though freeborn, and condemned to a cruel prison, though he was innocent. Another person of less humility and prudence, would have told the story of his life, and insisted on the most honourable circumstances. If he had done so, the Holy Ghost would have left a virtue in darkness, which rather than subsist in obscurity, would have chose to have been comforted under misfortune, by the vain satisfaction of making itself admired; whereas care has been taken to let all ages, know what Joseph would not have mentioned in secret, nor in the obscure dungeon wherein he was shut up.
. : II. Joseph's advancement. The first descent of his brethren into Egypt. Gen. xli, xlii.
At the end of two full years, after the butler was restored, Pharaoh dreamed two dreams in the same night. In the one he saw seven fat kine coming up out of the river, which were devoured by seven other lean kine, that came up after them out of the same river. In the second he saw seven full ears of corn, which were presently after devoured by seven thin
And when none of the wise men of Egypt could interpret these dreams, the butler remembered Josepli
, and spoke of him to the king, who caused him presently to be brought out of prison and told him his dreams. Joseph answered, that the seven fat kine and the seven full ears signified seven years
of plenty; and the seven lean kine and thin ears signified seven years of famine which were to succeed them. And he advised the king to look out a wise and discreet inan, who should be employed during the seven years of plenty to lay up part of the corn in public store-houses, that Egypt might be supplied from thence in the years of famine. This counsel pleased Pharaoh, and he said to Joseph, I appoint thee this day to rule over the land of Egypt; according to thy word shall my people be governed, and only I shall be greater than thou. At the same time he took
off his [x] ring from his hand, and put it upon Joşeph's hand; and he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had, and they cried before him, Bow the knee. He also changed his name, and gave him one which signified, The saviour of the world.
The seven years of plenty fell out, as Joseph had foretold. And he gathered up a great quantity of the corn, and laid it in the king's store-houses. The famine came next, and spread itself over all countries; but in Egypt there was corn.
And when the people were almost famished, they cried' unto Pharaoh for bread. And he said unto them, Go unto Joseph, what he saith unto you, do. Joseph then opened the store-houses, and sold corn to the Egyptians and other nations.
Jacob, having heard that there was corn in Egypt, ordered his sons to go down thither. They went to the number of ten; for Jacob kept Benjamin with him, lest soine accident should happen to him by the way. When they were come into Egypt, they presented themselves before Joseph, and bowed down before him. Jaseph knew his brethren, and secing them lie at his feet, he remembered the dreams which he had formerly dreained, but did not make himself known unto them. He spoke to them roughly, and treated them as spies, who were come to take a view of the country. But they answered him, My lord, we are come to buy corn; we are twelve brothers, all one man's sons, who is in the land of Canaan. The youngest is left with our father, the other is dead. Well then, answers Joseph, by this ye shall be proved. Send one of you to fetch your brother, and the rest shall be kept in prison. He thought fit however to detain but one of them. Struck with terror and remorse, they said one to another in their own language, This distress is justly come upon us, for being guilty concerning our brother. We saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us to have pity on him, but we would not hear [x] This ring was the royal seal.
him; therefore is this misfortune come upon us. Reuben, one of them, said to them, Spake I not then unto you, Do not sin against the child, and you would not hear; therefore now is his blood required of you by God. Joseph, who understood them, though they knew it not, could not refrain from weeping. He left them for a inoment, and returned again to talk with them. Then he took Simeon, and bound him before their eyes; and privately commanding his officers to restore every man's money into his sack, they departed with their asseg loaden with COIN.
Qu. Why did God leave Joseph in prison so many years, without seeming to be mindful of him?
Ans. This term, which scems long indeed to a prisoner, was necessary to confirm Joseph in humility
, submission to the will of God, and patience. should have looked upon him with concern, had we seen him in bonds, and known his innocence. But God, who had a far more indulgent and tender compassion for him, left him in a condition from which we should have delivered him. He knew what was wanting to his virtue; how long the remedies requisite for his health were to last. He saw his future temptations and dangers, and prepared for him during his bondage the assistances and strength he would stand in need of after his advancement. Thus he deals with his elect; he strengthens them in patience and humility, and does not expose them to temptation, till they are duly prepared to resist it.
Qu. How came Pharaoh so easily to resolve upon the choice of Joseph for his first minister, and to invest a stranger and a foreigner with sovereign power?
Ans. It is the happiness of a nation, when a prince is inspired with a salutary thought. Whilst Joseph was speaking to the ears of Pharaoh, God instructed him in secret. Ile caused him to attend to the sage adrice and prudent counsels of a stranger and a captive;