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man of trials. Imitate his trust in God; look forward, like him, to the world of glory; seek the sanctified use of your sorrows, and pray that at last you may come out of your great tribulation,” and “ sit down with Abraham, with Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God.”
THERE are few histories in the sacred volume more interesting and instructive than that of Joseph. It is connected with some of our dearest remembrances. Most of us have wept at the tale of his sorrows, and have rejoiced in his prosperity, when, in the days of childhood, his story has been related to us by our parents; and, in more advanced life, we have contemplated his exalted character with renewed delight. He was an illustrious type of the blessed Redeemer; and few lives, except that of the Saviour, present more elevated models of virtue. It is calculated to communicate instruction to all conditions of men; for he experienced all the vicissitudes of this changing world; and, as affliction did not sink him in despondency, so neither did prosperity destroy the
humility and piety of his soul. It is a beautiful exhibition of the wisdom and power of that Providence, which educes good from intended evil; which often accomplishes its benevolent designs by means apparently the most adverse; which overrules the envy and hatred of men, to subserve its gracious purposes; which, making its way in the whirlwind, in the storm, and in darkness, still is, in a manner, inscrutable to us, effecting the fulfilment of the promise, that “all things shall work together for good, to those who love God.” Behold Joseph in his afflictions, ye children of sorrow, and learn to bear your woes with patience. Behold him in his elevation, ye favourites of the world, and learn to be modest and undazzled by the splendours of earth. Behold him, Christians, cruelly persecuted, though adorned with the greatest virtues; yet, notwithstanding the malice of his enemies, rising at last from the depth of his afflictions, to the most splendid elevation; and trace the resemblance between him and the Saviour whom you adore.
In the history of Jacob we have seen that he regarded Joseph with peculiar affection. This is not surprising. Joseph was the first-born of his beloved Rachel. He was a son given, it would seem, in answer to prayer. He had ever displayed the tenderest affection and filial regard to his father, while his other sons had often wounded his heart by their unkindness. He was born when his father was advanced in life ; and “ Israel loved Joseph more than all his children,” says the sacred historian, because he was the son of his old age.” Men never appear more gratified to revive in their descendants than when they are about to depart from earth. Happy those children who, by their amiable qualities and virtues, thus attach the heart of those to whom they owe their being; who can say to themselves, “I form the joy of a tender father, of an affectionate mother: when their thoughts, or their looks, are fixed upon me, it is with a delicious emotion of soul; it is in raising to heaven their grateful hands, in blessing the common Father of men; in addressing to him the most fervent prayers in my behalf, and in placing me as their dearest treasure, under his safeguard and protection.” Sacred delights, how much would we weaken and degrade you, if we attempted to paint you!
But though Jacob could not avoid cherishing a superior love for Joseph, yet he was highly imprudent in openly manifesting his partiality. By giving him a “coat of many colours," an embroidered garment, such as was then worn only by persons of distinction, the jealousy of his brethren was excited. They were indignant that one inferior to them in
age, should so engross the heart of their common father, and be elevated above them by what they esteemed caprice or dotage. “They hated Joseph, and could not speak peaceably unto him." Parents, be warned by this history. If you would wish your houses to be the seat of peace and harmony, if you would not desire rudely to snap asunder those bonds which unite the hearts of your offspring to one another, and to yourselves, give to no child “a coat of many colours;": a badge of peculiar distinction. The favourite, in most instances, will be ruined by your blind partiality; and your other children, if timid and yielding, will have their spirits broken, and their minds debased; or, if ardent and impetuous, will cherish passions destructive of domestic felicity; will be alienated from your idol, and will gradually forget their filial affection towards
you. The anger of Joseph's brethren was increased, because afflicted at some iniquitous conduct in which they had indulged, and which he was unable to reform, he had reported it to their father; not because he took pleasure in showing their guilt, nor from an officious interference, but from charitable motives—from a hope that paternal authority and remonstrances might reclaim them. An open testimony of our abhorrence of the conduct of sinners, if it do not melt their hearts, will irritate and inflame them. It is not therefore surprising, that his brethren afterwards regarded Joseph with deeper enmity.
But their hatred was carried to its highest point, and converted into cool malice and a deliberate desire of revenge, in consequence of Joseph's relating before them, in the simplicity of his heart, two dreams, which intimated that all his father's house should fall down, and express their submission to him. “ His brethren envied him, and hated him yet the more for his dreams.” If they esteemed those dreams to be supernatural and prophetical intimations of the divine purposes; who were they, that they should contend with God, and rebel against the appointments of his providence? Or, if they regarded them as the mere rovings of his fancy in sleep, was his life to be pursued, and his death resolved on, for the mere wanderings of his imagination ?
Beware of the indulgence of envy. It is a passion that is restrained by no barriers. When once admitted into the heart, you know not to what enormous crimes it will drive you. It caused the brethren of Joseph to forget pity, humanity, natural affec
tion; and to desire and plot his death. It caused the first murderer to shed the blood of righteous Abel. It rankled in the hearts of the Scribes, the high priests, and Pharisees, and conducted Jesus to the cross.
Are you hated by those who ought to regard you with affection? Why should you be surprised or disquieted? This has been the lot of the best men in all ages. Thus it was with Joseph; thus it was with the gracious Redeemer; and the servants ought to be contented to be as their Lord. Oppressed and wounded by the unkindness of his brethren, Joseph found consolation in the affection of his father. Afflicted believer, you have a Father infinitely more tender than Jacob, in whose sympathizing bosom you may confidently pour out all your cares, and whose smiles can abundantly compensate for the hatred and the frowns of the world.
The brethren of Joseph soon found an opportunity of satisfying their vengeance. They had gone a distance from home to procure pasture for their flocks. Jacob, who felt the warmest paternal anxiety for them, notwithstanding their unjust suspicions and jealousy, sent Joseph, who was now seventeen years of age, to inquire after their welfare. Not finding his brethren at Sichem, where he expected to meet them, he diligently sought for them, and would not return till he saw them, that the anxiety of his father might be relieved, and his own fraternal affection gratified. He approaches them with delight; his heart is filled with love; he rejoices in their felicity, and hopes to augment it by the glad tidings which he brings from their venerable parent. But how different are their feelings! The first sight of him rouses up every malignant passion, and they exclaim,