Page images


strange unto them and spake roughly unto
them ;” nor suffered them to depart home,
until he had taken measures to secure their
return. On their return, the first question
with which he saluted them, a question
which indicated the tenderest and most
amiable anxiety, was, ,

" Is

father well, the old man of whom ye spake? is he still alive?" When he discovered himself to his brethren, he was impelled to the discovery by the lively sense he had conceived of his father's affliction and distress ; and accordingly his apprehension for his father's safety betrays itself in language, which after the previous conversation with his brethren could not have been dictated but by the warmest attachment; “I am Joseph. Doth my father yet live ?” Agreeably to this, his first measure is to secure his father's removal from a land of scarcity to one of plenty, where he himself also might be able to minister to his wants and to contribute to his comforts, " Haste

ye; and go up to my father, and say unto him, , Thus saith thy son Joseph; God hath made me lord of all Egypt : come down unto me, tarry not : and thou shalt dwell

in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast : and there will I nourish thee.” He dwells` on the dignity which he is enjoying in a strange land, because he thinks it will be a subject of exultation and delight to his aged parent. “ Ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen : and ye shall haste, and bring down my father hither.” He sends him provisions and carriages for his journey: and not content with intrusting the charge of welcoming him to another, he

himself to receive him : Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.” And there he placed him, and nourished him in the best of the land during the remaining “ days of the years of his pilgrimage,” until he“ brought down his grey hairs,” not “ with sorrow," but with comfort, “ to the grave.” Nor can I forbear noticing those interesting particulars, which illustrate the filial piety of Joseph, in presenting himself with his children before the death-bed of his father to receive his parting blessing : in promising to convey him to “ the burying-place of his ancestors ;” in “ falling upon his father's face, and weeping upon him, and kissing him,” when he had yielded up the ghost; in “ embalming” the body with princely munificence; and fi.nally in removing it to “ the land of Canaan,” and depositing it“ in the cave of Machpelah," the sepulchre of. Abraham and of Isaac.


2. But Joseph, it may be said, had been treated with partial fondness by his father ; and the affection, which he thus testified, was only a return for the kindness he had experienced. Let us see then what was his conduct towards his brethren, all of whom “ had hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him ;" whilst some of them had conspired to slay him, and others had actually sold him for a slave.

[ocr errors][merged small]

When he had occasion to notice the cause of his being a bondman in Egypt,

how does he describe it? 6 Indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews.” He intimates that he had been treated with injustice; but he mentions not those who had injured him. When his brethren appeared before him, how does he conduct himself towards them ? " He made himself strange unto them indeed, and spake roughly unto them :” he adopted a line of conduct, which was necessary perhaps in order to complete the benevolent design, he had in view; and which for a time wore the appearance of severity and harshness : but in adopting even this apparent severity, he laid a temporary restraint on his own humanity and affection ; at the same time he committed no act of injustice towards any one of them, and ultimately he conferred the greatest benefits on them all. In this part of his behaviour indeed we perceive his prudence and discretion; which would not suffer him to discover himself unto his brethren, before he should have ascertained the probable consequences of the discovery: and which perhaps judged it expedient to awaken their sleeping consciences to salutary contrition for their former unnatural cruelty. From such considerations as these he seems to have done violence to his real feelings; what those feelings were, we learn from unequivocal evidence, when in the midst of this assumed strangeness and roughness of demeanour, “ he turned himself about from them and wept ;" when“ he' commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man's money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way :" when he “ could not refrain himself, but wept aloud, so that the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard, while he made himself known unto his brethren;" when he “ kissed all his brethren and wept upon them;" when he gave them a possession in the best of the land ;” when he “ nourished them and their little ones ;" when he “ comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.'

[ocr errors]

3. I have only to add that the moral character of Joseph, thus beautifully illustrated by his conduct towards his father, who had treated himn with paternal affection, and towards his brothers, who had

« PreviousContinue »