Page images

kind and friendly master. But in this changing state, the most pleasing situation may be rendered uncomfortable, yea, dangerous. And Joseph was [a] goodly (person,) and well favoured,

a beautiful youth, about twenty seven years of age. 7 And when Joseph was in these flourishing circumstances, an un

expected trouble came upon him, for it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph, and became a lewd tempiter' to him ; and, forgetting her sex, her duty, and station, having lost all principles of virtue and honour, with an impudent face she said to him, Lie with me. Who can hear such a proposal without indignation! It is probable she had tried some other methods to allure him, before her paésion rose so high; but finding them disregarded, she became more urgent. Joseph was young and prosperous, and stood high in his master's favour : it would have been much for his interest to have obliged his mistre88 ; it was at his peril to re

fuse ; he had continued importunity and convenient seasons ; 8 But, by divine assistance he overcame this strong temptation and

refused, and held fast his integrity ; nevertheless he showed so much respect to his mistress as to reason with, and did not fly in her face and reproach her : he suggests many arguments why he could not comply, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what [is] with me in the house, and he 9 hath committed all that he hath to my hand ; [There is) none

greater in this house than I ; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou [art] his wife : how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ?* who has been so good to me, and who sees and knows all my secret thoughts and actions ; how can I do it ? He speaks of it as an impossible thing. One would have thought so much virtuc

would have abashed and confounded this abandoned seducer, 10 but she haunted him still. And it came to pass, as she

spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, [or] to be with her. He resolutely

and wisely shunned her discourse and company, till, tired 11 with his refusals, she resolved to succeed or ruin him. And

it came to pass about this time, that (Joseph] went into the house to do his business ; and (there was) none of the

men of the house there within, being gone to a feast, as Jose12 phus tells us. And, Joseph coming in to settle his accounts, she

• He argues 1. from gratitude to his master ; He hath advanced me so much above my expectation, and showed me so much generosity, that I should be a monster of ingratitude if i was to abuse him in this matter. Shall I, a stranger and a slave, put infamy upon my Ipaster, and do him irreparable mischiet? 2. He argues from his fidelity ; My master knoweth not what is in the house, he hath committed all to me, except thyself, and shall I prove a traitor and deceive him? Shul I be guilty of the basest treachery and unfaithfulness, by invading his bed, and breaking the sacred matrimonial tie? But then comes the chief argument, 3. How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ? His virtue was founded on religion, and this inale it steadfast and unmoveable. This interrogation Speaks the greatest detestation of the vice to which he was solicited: How can I sin ar ainst my master; against thee; against my aged father and my brethren ; against my own body and soul? But above all. How can I sin against God?

caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me : and he thought it to no purpose to reason any more, and not being willing

to struggle with her, left his garment in her hand, and fled, 13 and got him out, fled as for his life, for his soul. And it came

to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her 14 hand, and was fled forth, that herlust turned to rage, 80 That she

called unto the men of her house, made an uproar, and forged a most notorious falsehood, and spake unto them when they came, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to

mock us, to abuse us, and so cause us to be disgraced ; he came 15 in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice : And

it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and

cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him 16 out. And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came 17 home. And she spake unto him according to these words, say:

ing, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, 18 came in unto me to mock me : And it came to pass, as I lifted

up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out. This story was very unlikely to be true ; her having his garment, rather showed that she solicited him, than he her ;

had he attempted to force her, he might easily have secured his 19 garment. And it came to pass, when his master heard the

words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After

this manner did thy servant to me ; that his wrath was kind. 20 led. And Joseph's master took him, perhaps without hearing

his apology, or at least to save appearances and his wift's credit, and put him into the prison, or dungeon, a place where the king's prisoners [were] bound : and he was there in the prison, in irons, as the psalmist tells us, (Psalm cv. 18.)

* Whose feet they hurt with fetters ; he was laid in iron.? 21 But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy,

and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison,

that is, the under keeper, to whom he probably told this story. 22 And the keeper of the prison, being convinced of his innocence

and integrity, committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were] in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he

was the doer (of it,] that is, it was done by his direction and order. 23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing (that was . under his hand ; because the LORD was with him, and [that] which he did, the LORD made [it] to prosper. So irue are Jacob's words (ch. xlix. 23, 24.) The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him : but his bow abode in strength ; and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.


1. T TOW happy is it for a man to enjoy the blessing of

11 God upon his affairs ! Joseph's brethren sold him, and left him in great distress ; but the Lord was with him ; and no wonder then that he was a prosperous man. He was separated from his friends, but not deprived of the presence of God; though removed from his earthly father, his heavenly father was near him still ; the blessing of God came upon the head of him who was sepe arated from his brethren. Those who desire prosperity, should secure the favour of God, make him their father and friend, and carry with them, wherever they go, a sense of his presence and friendship, and do nothing to forfeit that favour. Then, as the psalmist says, they shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water ; their leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever they do, it shall prosper.

2. To have good servants is to be considered as an instance of the kind providence of God: and those who are so, should be esteemed and valued. God made Joseph a good servant, and gave him grace, or favour, in the eyes of his master ; and he advanced him, took him to be his own servant, and chief steward. It is a great satisfaction to masters and mistresses to have those about them in whose prudence and integrity they can confide. Potiphar trusted all to Joseph ; whereas masters in general are obliged to be the chief servants in a family, and the work often falls heaviest upon them. Good servants are a blessing to the family where they dwell, and families may sometimes be blessed for their sake. Potiphar was blessed for Joseph's sake, and Laban for Jacob's sake. Such therefore should be highly prized and esteemed, not only as servants, but as brethren in the Lord : all kindness and encouragement should be shown them, to reward their fidelity ; and though perhaps they may not be altogether so suitable in other respects, if they fear God, and are faithful to their trust, they should be esteemed very highly in love.

3. How infamous and wretched is that mind which is abandoned to the irregularity of passion! What a wretched figure does this audacious woman make ! Her name is buried in oblivion and forgetfulness, but her character remains as a reproach to the family and nation to which she belonged. Her headstrong passions hurried her along to break through all the bonds of decency, modesty, and fidelity ; her conscience was seared and unim, pressed. When this unclean spirit gets possession of human nature, it is hard to dispossess him. How careful therefore should men and women be to guard against the least approach to such sins, to check all unclean and sensual thoughts. How careful should they be to make a covenant with their eyes, and keep a rule over their own spirits, that they may not be, as this wretched creature was, like a city without any defence, acting a disa

Agreeable, shameful, scandalous part, and adding one degree of horrible wickedness to another. Let every one learn to possess ħis vessel in sanctification and honour ; neither using filthiness, or foolish talking, or jesting, which are not convenient. How suitable is the apostle's advice, keep thyself pure ; and how much need have we to pray, Lord, create in us a clean heart, and reners e right spirit within us.

4. The fear of God is the most excellent preservative from sin. The omniscience and universal government of God, made Joseph resist this violent temptation so boldly. He considered it not only as a sin against his master, but against God. Thus Nehemiah, speaking of the wickedness of his predecessors, adds, So did not 1, because of the fear of GOD. The fear of men, or shame, or natural decency and modesty, may keep men and women from sin in some circumstances, and on some occasions ; but real religion is an universal preservative from sin ; it gives a divine sanction to social duties, and all the strictest branches of personal virtue. It is a good thing then, that the heart be welt established with grace, which will keep us from those snares which are most artfully laid. By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil; and happy is he that feareth always.

5. What an amiable and lovely character is this of Joseph, and how fit a model for young men to imitate. Paul commands Timothy to flee youthful lusts, and Titus, to exhort young men to be sober minded. Joseph was stripped of his coat, but not of his virtue ; he carried that along with him. Satan tried him by such a temptation as was peculiarly suitable to those whose blood is warm, and their constitution vigorous ; but he resisted him steadfast in the faith. He looked upon uncleanness, and especially adultery, as a most enormous crime; he did not esteem it, as too many in these days affect to do, as a light matter, a trick of youth ; as a thing that by right should not have been a sin, as some have profanely talked; but he was struck with horror at the thoughts of it, and chose rather to expose himself to the hatred and resentment of an imperious, lustful, revengeful woman, than sin against his master and his God. The example of some great men, and the generality of our modern plays, are eminently calcułated to corrupt the minds of youth ; the debauchery of their heroes, and their men of resolution and bravery, have a wretched influence on young minds. There was every circumstance in Joseph's temptation, that could render the sin pleasant and profitable ; but, through divine grace, he overcame it. He is the only hero, who can resist temptation. My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not ; and in order to this, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus ; repel every temptation with this reply, How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God ?

6. If we would avoid sin, we must keep out of the way of temptation. Joseph did so ; he kept out of the sight and company of his mistress, he would not sit with her, or be near her This lovely youth might have argued and reasoned ever so long, but probably he would have been overcome if he had not avoided the tempter. Thus must we do, if we would be safe. So Solomon advises, Go not near the door of her house, the house of the strange woman, or harlot. Avoid every occasion of sin ; mind your own proper business ; for idleness is an inlet to this and every other sin. Do not stand parlèying with temptation, but givė it a short and sharp repulse ; Get thee behind me, Satan. He that parleys is half won. Get out of harm's way. To pray, Lord, lead us not into temptation, and yet to run into it, is an abominable mockery of God. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.

7. How liable is innocence to be injured by false accusations ! Joseph seemed to be justly condemned, when for his eminent virtue he was cast into prison. It is easy for men to raise and spread a spiteful story, to ruin the reputation and comfort of the person injured, as long as he lives. What devilish malice must it be to charge persons in any circumstances, and especialJy persons of worth and eminence, with such vices as bring a wound, and a dishonour, and a reproach, which perhaps can nevbe wiped off. A malicious tongue is set on fire of hell ; the wisest and best of men have often been injured by it, and have had nó remedy but an appeal to the heartsearching God. Those who are most clear and untainted, may yet be exposed to hard speeches and unjust reproaches. So Joseph was ; so Christ himself was ; but God will at length bring forth the righteousness of his servants as the noon day : and those who have reviled and slandered others, shall feel the most bitter remorse in this world probably, but certainly in another, when characters that have been unjustly aspersed shall be cleared up. Jesus, who bore the contradiction of sinners against himself, shall then plead the cause of his injured servants ; and to those who have been slandered and oppressed he shall give eternal rest.

3. How cheerfully mav innocence repose itself on God, under all the injuries it suffers! God distinguished Joseph by his favour and blessing, in the prison, as well as in Potiphar's house. From his having the favour of the keeper of the prison, one would think that Potiphar supposed it to be a suspicious affair, and therefore he was not so highly incensed against Joseph. Perhaps he knew something of his wife's character ; though for the sake of his own, as well as her's he still kept himn in prison ; but God was with him there. To the upright there ariseth light in darkness and dungeons; the gates of the prison could not shut out God's favour and blessing. Ile raised hiin up friends during his confinement, and made his bondage comfortable. So will God do for all his oppressed servants. This instance should encourage those who suffer wrongfully, to bear it patiently. This, says the

« PreviousContinue »