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SERMON XXV.

JOSEPH'S BRETHREN IN DANGER AND

TROUBLE.

GENESIS XLIV. 16.

And Judah said, What shall we say unto my

Lord ? What shall we speak ? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants : behold, we are my Lord's servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.

We left the patriarch Jacob bitterly complaining of the distress which his sons had brought upon him, by the demand that Benjamin should

go into Egypt in proof of the truth of the relation which they had there given of themselves, and as the condition

upon which Simeon should be restored to liberty. He had passionately determined that the youth should not go down with them. But necessity has no law, and it masters all our desires and resolutions. The famine continued, the stock of corn, which they had brought out of Egypt, gradually diminished, and they again had the prospect before them of perishing for want of food. Jacob therefore bade his sons to go, and buy them some food, but hoping perhaps that they might not require the fulfilment of the condition, he said nothing of Benjamin. They however knew that it would be in vain to go down without him. That would be to confirm the suspicions of the Egyptians, and so far from procuring them food and liberating Simeon, would only bring them all into the same prison or bondage. They told their father therefore that if he would send Benjamin with them, they would go, but not otherwise. Here again the agitated feelings of Jacob blinded his better judgment, and he unreasonably complained, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother ?” To which they replied, that they had only in the simplicity of their hearts answered the strict enquiries of the ruler of the country, in order that by plainly stating who and what they were they might free themselves from the charge brought against them. They could not possibly suppose that he would make the use of it which he did, and require them to bring their brother into his presence. Judah further reminded his father that the matter was now come to an extremity, and that their very lives depended upon his sending Benjamin with them. He engaged to be surety for him, and expressed a confident persuasion that they should have a safe return, nay that but for the delay which had already been made, they should have already have gone and come back with both their brothers. The father submitted; he saw that “it must be so," and therefore stood out no longer; and in order that they might conciliate the person who had such power in Egypt, he directed them to prepare for him a present of such productions of the land of Canaan as would be most rare, and therefore most acceptable in Egypt. He bade them also take

back the money which had been found in their sacks, intimating that perhaps it had got there by some oversight, and other money also for the purchase of more food; and then he committed them all to God. These are the pious and resigned words with which he concluded, “ And God almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”

I will pause here to make a few brief reflections on these circumstances.

Let us learn to be cautious in forming and expressing strong determinations. Jacob had said, “ My son shall not go down with you.” But now he found himself compelled to send him. It was a rash word which he had

spoken, and should warn us that we do not speak unadvisedly with our lips. But let us also learn submission to the will of God. Unavoidable necessity may often constrain us to do what is very contrary to our natural desires, or our previous declarations, or we may be called, in the providence of God, to suffer what at one time we supposed it impossible to endure. Let us learn to submit to circumstances, and to part with those things which we have thought that we could never give up. There is always as much grace in meekly and willingly submitting to the will of God in painful circumstances, as there is in praising and glorifying him in prosperous ones. Happy is he whose mind can say, “If I am bereaved, I am bereaved :" “I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be content:" “ The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Again, let us reflect that if life be so necessary, that a man will part with whatever he hath to preserve it, how much more concerned should we be for our eternal life! If the body be more than meat, and the life than raiment, the soul is more than either of these. What is a man injured, if he should suffer loss of all things, so that his soul be saved ? And what is a man profited, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his soul ?

The sons of Jacob, on their arrival again

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