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inheriting a nature originally corrupt. But whilst we are herein furnished with a proof of the impartiality and veracity of the writers, the humble and contrite heart is encouraged not to despond under the consciousness of its weakness, provided it be not guilty of “presumptuous sins ;” and the more confident spirit is admonished not to be too secure in its own stedfastness, but to “ take heed lest it fall.”
In the mean time, notwithstanding these temporary lapses into sin, to which the records of the Jewish church represent the best of men as subject, it may be safely affirmed, that in those records we must search for instances of the purest virtue. And in no other authentic narratives, with the exception of the books of the New Testament alone, shall we discover parallels to the faith of Abraham ; the piety of David, and of Daniel ; the righteousness of Enoch, and of Noah; the zeal of Elijah; the disinterestedness of Elisha; the integrity of Samuel; the uprightness of Josiah ; the religious courage of Caleb and Joshua; the patriotism of Ezra and Nehe
miah ; the meekness of Moses; and the resignation of Job.
But among the numerous examples of virtue with which these holy writings abound, there is no one, perhaps, more worthy of general imitation, no one, which is illustrative of a greater variety of moral excellence, or which is exhibited in more diversified or in more interesting relations, than that of Joseph the son of Jacob. Placed by the Providence of God in situations of peculiar difficulty and hazard exposed to the powerful temptations of the most abject and the most elevated condition ;-at one time persecuted by his brethren, and sold by them as a slave into a foreign country; at another become the object of their reverence, while “ they bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth;"-at one time deseryedly honoured and exalted by his master; at another slanderously accused of a crime which his soul abhorred, and injuriously thrust into the public prison, as a malefactor;—now with his “ feet hurt in the stocks,” and “ the iron entering into his soul ;” and now “arrayed in vestures of fine linen, as ruler over all the land of Egypt, wearing the gold chain and riding in the second chariot of Pharaoh, whilst they cried before him, Bow the knee:"—this illustrious Patriarch appears to have uniformly maintained the same virtuous character, and to verify the observation of the Egyptian Monarch, that it were difficult to “ find such an one as this is, a man in whom is the Spirit of God.”
The observation of Pharaoh indeed was limited to a single feature in the character of Joseph. His interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams, and his salutary advice with respect to the necessary provision for meeting the approaching exigence, filled the king with a high opinion of his wisdom and discretion ; qualities, which he attributed with a discernment, remarkable in a Heathen sovereign, to the inspiration of God. The inspired writers refer us to the same divine Being as the source of every -human excellence; and attribute all our approaches towards moral or intellectual perfection to his benign influence. “ The fruit of the Spirit,” saith St. Paul, “ is in all goodness and righteousness and truth”;" and the same Apostle elsewhere tells us, that whatever be our “ wisdom" and our
knowledge,” they are “ all the work of that one and the self-same Spirito.”
I shall consider the words of Pharaoh then as describing the character of Joseph in a more enlarged sense than that, which they were originally intended to bear: and shall endeavour to give you a distinct view of the several features of his charac, ter, in the several relations, wherein it is presented by Moses, in order to draw from the examination the general inference, that
in whom was the Spirit of God.”
I. The love of God is “ the first and great commandmento :" nor can it be said, that the Spirit of God is in that man, who is not actuated by the love of God. Here then we have a leading criterion, by which to estimate the character of Joseph.
Eph. v. 9.
Matt. xxii. 38.
b1 Cor. xii. 11.
1. He, who loves God, will “ do all to the glory of God";” whatever good works he may
have grace to do, he will do them with a view to promote the glory of his heavenly Father. Such was the piety of Joseph. When called upon to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh, he replied, “ It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” And he had previously ascribed his skill in divination to its allwise Giver, when he prefaced his explanation of the dreams of the chief butler and the chief baker, by telling them that “ interpretations belonged to God.”
2. He, who loves God, will believe in his superintending and directing Providence, and will be assured that “ all things will work together for good to them who love him." Such was the faith of Joseph. “ As for you, ye thought evil against me, was his language to his brethren, in allusion to their selling him for a slave: “ but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people
d 1 Cor. x. 31.
e Rom. viii. 28.