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who knows not that passions oftentimes lie smothered, in unfavourable circumstances, unknown to a man's own self; which wait only for a convenient opportunity, to burst forth with destructive fury? And who has not found by sad experience, that Satan seizes on each occasion of restraint removed, to suggest indulgence whether in sins of sensuality, or in anger, malice, and revenge?
But Joseph had before shewn that he could resist temptation, though presented to him with all the force of opportunity by the advantage of convenient season. See ch. 39. 11, 12. And now he had only tears wherewith to answer the message sent him by his brethren, as from his father. And when they followed up their message by waiting on him, and falling down before his face, and saying, “Behold, we be thy servants ;" he bade them “ Fear not;" asked them, “ Am I in the place of God?” repeated what he had said before, that he saw in their unkindness only God's design for good, and assured them that he would still continue to nourish both them and their little ones. Thus he “comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.” Thus though he disclaimed being in the place of God “to whom vengeance belongeth,” Ps. 94. 1, he was walking in the steps of that heavenly Father, who “ maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matt. 5. 45. Let the full and free forgiveness, which was exercised in this instance by our brother man, lead us to feel more assurance of faith in the fulness and freeness of the pardon of God, vouchsafed to us miserable sinners. Let our sins which have been once repented of, and forgiven, be looked upon as blotted out from his remembrance; and be recollected by ourselves not as reasons to fear that He will punish us, but as memorials of his mercy in forgiving us! Oh how fervently should we then love Him, who thus freely forgives us all ! Oh how utterly impossible should we then find it, not heartily to forgive each other!
Joseph continued to dwell in Egypt to the end of his life, unto the age of “an hundred and ten years.” And he lived long enough to see his children “of the third generation” brought up upon his knees. Thus he began to experience the fulfilment of his father's blessing. And he was so much the more confirmed in his faith and hope as to all the promises of God. How firmly is this his confidence expressed, in bis dying words, and dying actions ! “ And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die." O Lord God, how true it is, that “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee !" Is. 26. 3. 6 And God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” O blessed Saviour, how safely may we trust in thy assurances, that Thou art gone to prepare a place for us, and that when Thou shalt come again, Thou wilt take us to Thyself, that where Thou art there we may be also! See John 14. 3. “ And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.” How precious a thing is faith, that it should make Joseph's "commandinent concerning his bones” worthy of mention in the Old Testament, and of praise in the New! See Heb. 11. 22. “So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old : and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” How vain a thing is earthly greatness, except as it may be used for God's glory; all the rest, how soon it ends in death!
“ Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return;" ch. 3. 19; this is the sentence which we have seen fulfilled throughout the history of the book of Genesis, except in the single instance of Enoch. This sentence, we are aware forms the burden of the history of all mankind, from that time even to this present. But though death puts an end to the glory of the great, the wealth of the rich, and the schemes of the wise; it does but remove the veil of sense, to the soul of the faithful, from before the glory and wealth and wisdom of eternity. The elders of whom we have in this book been reading “obtained a good report” through faith. Heb. 11. 2. They are set forth to us for an example of faithfulness. Let this then be the chief use we make of reading their history, to feel the evidence of things not seen, so much the stronger, to feel the substance of things hoped for, so much the more sure. They believed and therefore they obeyed. Let us shew forth our faith by our works. They prayed, they gave thanks, they offered sacrifice. Let us offer prayers and thanksgiving to the Father; in reliance on the all sufficient and effectual intercession, of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
O God, who hast set before us in this book of thine, so many eminent patterns of faithfulness and love, we desire to thank Thee for this encouragement afforded to ourselves, to be stedfast in well doing. And heartily we pray, that we being edified by their examples, may grow both in faith and grace, unto the praise of thy holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
EXODUS. The increase of the children of Israel. i Now these are the names 5 And all the souls that came of the children of Israel, which out of the loins of Jacob were came into Egypt; every man seventy souls: for Joseph was and his household came with in Egypt already. Jacob.
6 And Joseph died, and all his 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and brethren, and all that generation. Judah,
7 And the children of Israel 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Ben- were fruitful, and increased ajamin,
bundantly, and multiplied, and 4 Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and waxed exceeding mighty; and Asher.
the land was filled with them. LECTURE 103. The church of the Israelites a type of ours. Exodus means, going out; and this second book of Moses is so named, because the most remarkable circumstance related in it, is the going out of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt. And first we are told who they were - which came into Egypt, even Jacob and all the brethren of Joseph, “every man and his household,” in all “seventy souls." Then it is set down that “ Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.” And next the extraordinary increase of the children of Israel is related; the words of the Hebrew signifying the swarms by which insects and fishes propagate their kinds; so as to express the very signal manner, in which God now fulfilled his promises of a numerous posterity to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. Hitherto in the Old Testament, we have chiefly had occasion to observe God's dealings with single families, or with single persons. Our attention will now be frequently directed to his dealings with a large community, whom we may well begin to call his Church. For such were henceforth the children of Israel; a family multiplied into a nation; a nation holding the true faith of the true God; having his will made known to them by revelation, and his worship established among them by law. In this book we shall see this church suffering by persecution, delivered from captivity, taken anew into covenant with God, enlightened by an accredited revelation of his will, and furnished with a tabernacle, and directory for his worship. And shall we not find in all these circumstances much that relates to our own instruction in righteousness ? Undoubtedly we shall. Their church was a type of ours. Their Law was a foreshadowing of our Gospel. Their tabernacle must remind us of our duty, to worship God in spirit and in truth. Their Egyptian bondage, what is this but our subjection to the flesh, the world, and the devil? Their deliverance, what is this but our going out from the captivity of sin, into the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free?
Pharaoh persecuteth the children of Israel. 8 Now there arose up a new Shiphrah, and the name of the king over Egypt, which knew other Puah : not Joseph.
16 And he said, When ye do 9 And he said unto his people, the office of a midwife to the HeBehold, the people of the children brew women, and see them upon of Israel are more and mightier the stools; if it be a son, then than we:
ye shall kill him: but if it be a 10 Come on, let us deal wisely daughter, then she shall live. with them; lest they multiply, 17 But the midwives feared and it come to pass, that, when God, and did not as the king of there falleth out any war, they Egypt commanded them, but join also unto our enemies, and saved the men children alive. fight against us, and so get them 18 And the king of Egypt called up out of the land.
for the midwives, and said unto 11 Therefore they did set over them, Why have ye done this them taskmasters to afflict them thing, and have saved the men with their burdens. And they children alive? built for Pharaoh treasure cities, 19 And the midwives said unto Pithom and Raamses.
Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew 12 But the more they afflicted women are not as the Egyptian them, the more they multiplied women; for they are lively, and and grew. And they weregrieved are delivered ere the midwives because of the children of Israel. come in unto them.
13 And the Egyptians made 20 Therefore God dealt well the children of Israel to serve with the midwives: and the peowith rigour:
ple multiplied, and waxed very 14 And they made their lives mighty. bitter with hard bondage, in mor
21 And it came to pass,
because ter, and in brick, and in all man- the midwives feared God, that ner of service in the field : all he made them houses. their service, wherein they made 22 And Pharaoh charged all his them serve, was with rigour. people, saying, Every son that is
15 And the king of Egypt spake born ye shall cast into the river, to the Hebrew midwives, of and every daughter ye shall save which the name of the one was alive.
The vanity of resisting the will of God. All this came of there being a “king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.” What a great thing it is, for them that seek a king's favour, to have a friend at court! When shall we sufficiently value our advantage in having the beloved Son of the King of kings, ever ready to take our part before the throne of grace? When shall we learn to pray with full dependence on his help, as our Mediator, Advocate, and Intercessor? And all this cruelty on the part of Pharaoh, arose from his being jealous of
the great increase and prosperity of the Israelites. When shall we, who ought to know so much better than he, be safe from all risk of envying the happiness of our neighbours? When shall we rejoice heartily, with them that do rejoice, even though their gain be our loss, and learn from John the Baptist to be glad to say “ He must increase, but I must decrease ?” John 3. 30.
This king, like other kings of Egypt, for many ages, was called Pharaoh. But how different was his conduct, from the kindness, thankfulness, bounty, and hospitality, which were shewn by the Pharaoh spoken of in the history of Joseph! When we read of his craft and subtlety, which he calls dealing “ wisely,” of his oppression by means of taskmasters, of his scheme to destroy every male child by means of the midwives, and of his order issued to “all his people," to cast them all into the river; we shall be apt to ask, can this be a successor of the other Pharaoh, having the like opportunities of light and knowledge, and being as well able to have known, in some degree, his duty to God and to his neighbour? It was so. Nay, and more, it is conceivable, that had the temptation been the same to the former Pharaoh, his conduct might have been no better. It is not our degree of light that will save us from falling. Nor is it our having stood thus far safe. No, it is the grace of God, that must work in us and with us stedfastness of purpose, or we have no security against the growth of selfishness in our hearts, even to the entire extinguishiing of the spirit of love.
This attempt of Pharaoh to destroy the male children, can hardly fail to remind us of the slaughter made by Herod amongst the infants at Bethlehem. Nor must we forget to refer to what is said in the book of Revelation, of the dragon which “stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” Rev. 12. 4. In every one of the three cases, the malice of the adversary was in vain exerted, whether against Christ, or against his church. Herod slew the infants. But Jesus survived. The dragon stood ready to devour, but when the woman “brought forth a man child,” “her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.” Rev. 12. 5. The Egyptians afflicted the Israelites. “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.” The women were delivered before the midwives could come. And had it been otherwise, they “ feared God,” and would by no means have done as the king of Egypt commanded them. So vain is all the subtlety and all the wrath of man, when arrayed against the will of the Most High! Oh when shall we ourselves be aware, that it is in vain to strive against God, and that there is not the least more likerihood of success, in our own plans for obtaining the joys of eternity, without conforming our lives to the good pleasure of God?
0. T. VOL. I. PART 1.