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whether it comes from presumption, despondency, or indifference, whoever lives in any known sin, whatever his temptation may be to commit it, whatever his contrasting virtues may be to balance it, whatever judgment his friends may pass upon it, whatever creed he professes, whatever party he may support, whatever aid he gives to the church, whatever use he may be in the world, whoever lives in sin must perish. Whoever lives in the way of sin, though he has been often invited to receive mercy, and has entertained hopes that he shall have mercy, and has formed some half resolutions; and travelled, as it were, almost to the gate of heaven, whosoever lives in any way of known sin assuredly will perish.
Sinners, how many, many, times have you heard this awful truth, and you have turned a deaf ear to it; you would not listen, your consciences were hardened? Now I do intreat
you, if this is the case with some that are here, O do not once again refuse to listen to your own undoing. The time never may return when you shall hear this invitation again. The Almighty God is set against you, and unless a puny creature like you can stand in conflict with the Omnipotent Jehovah, you have no hope whatever, that, when your summons comes, you shall be happy at the last. May God Almighty bring you, by his own grace, to repentance—set hefore you the awful consequences of going on in the way of known sin—help you to take the resolution this very night to return to him—implant in you a confidence in his own goodness—make you alive to his invitations, and so lead you, as to be assured, unless you yourself reject them, you may be led into all the blessings of the new covenant of grace, to be blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
DELIVERED BY THE REV. T. MORTIMER,
AT ST. MARK'S CHURCH, WEDNESDAY EVENING, JANUARY 26, 1831.
Genesis, xlix. 22, 26.—" Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose brunches run over the wall. The archers hare sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him. But his bov- abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob, from thence is the Shepherd, the stone of Israel. Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee, and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of thy father hare prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors, unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren."
This chapter brings before us a very solemn and affecting scene. It is the death of an old man—no common man. It is the death of an aged saint—no common saint. It is the death of an old patriarch—no common patriarch. Where was he now? He was in Egypt. He had Joseph with him— but he said he should never see Joseph any more. He had declared, as for himself, he should go down with grey hairs to the grave, and in suffering— but it was not so. God was better to
him than his fears. Here was an old venerable man—a man of God; and he was now on a dying bed. He was anxious for his children to be assembled around him; and at the head of the family he delivered to them his dying charge. His addresses to Judah and to Joseph, are the two most beautiful of all his addresses to his children. At some future time, it may be our business to bring before you this whole chapter in its fulfilment in a course of sermons; and, therefore, I shall not now enlarge upon it, as to its prophetical bearings on the descendants and posterity of Joseph.
These predictions were remarkably fulfilled; even Ephraim and Manasseh were two fruitful boughs; or rather, Joseph might be said to be " a fruitful bough whose two branches ran over a wall." The posterity of Joseph increased remarkably, so that it became quite proverbial in Israel.
I leave then all its prophetical bearings, and I take the passage, In its application to Joseph personally. And then, in the use that we, as Christians, may make of it for our own comfort.
Here is a reference to past troubles. "The archers hit him sorely." Is this true? See how poor Joseph was treated by his brethren. See from a child how soon he began to be afflicted: how soon he began to know sorrow and trouble; and though the favourite child of his father—foolishly so (for whenever parents show undue favouritism to any child, they are sure to suffer for it). Joseph, though the favourite child of his father, yet how soon did he begin to suffer? You know his history—you know of his being carried down to Egypt—you know of his being sold as a bond-servant; and we are told, that "the iron entered into his soul." All this while the Almighty was preparing him for something great, and noble, and magnificent—while he was preparing him to be lord over his mother's sons, and prince over all his father's children. So that in point of fact, though his troubles were great and singular, they were not more so than his after success, when it pleased God to turn again his captivity.
Now old Jacob, in adverting to his son's past trouble, could not help remarhing what he himself had suffered, when they brought the coat of many colours, and told him, with all the indifference imaginable, "This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no?" Jacob knew the coat of many colours which he had given to his beloved child: when he saw it he said, "An evil beast hath devoured him: and Joseph without doubt is rent in pieces." How ignorant and how foolish is man! How soon do we take up the mournful and sorrowful, when we ought to be joyful
and glad, when we ought to attune our harps and sing!" All these things are against me," says Jacob. They were all for him: they were all so many links in one great and blessed chain, designed for his prosperity and peace.
Here is not only a reference to suffering, but an acknowledgment of grace given. "The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him. But his bow abode in strength." Perhaps there never was a more remarkable history in the world than that of Joseph. It is wonderful the way in which it pleased God, to make every thing that was intended for his injury, turn to the man's good. He was taken down to Egypt— very soon he was made great—very soon every thing was committed to his charge in the house of Potiphar; and then, when his wicked mistress attempted to seduce him from the path of piety, and virtue, and godliness, even then, it pleased God to make that very thing, in the end, to work in an astonishing manner for the good of Joseph. How did his bow abide in strength? You know. He was cast into prison as a malefactor—there he met with two other prisoners, the chief butler, and the chief baker—they had their dreams—they tell their dreams to Joseph—he interprets their dreams —all comes true—every thing he has said is fulfilled. After this, after the death of the chief baker, and after the restoration of the chief butler, Pharaoh has a dream—he cannot understand it—his wise men cannot understand it. The chief butler remembers this marvellous, this strangely singular young man in the prison—he tells Pharaoh, "I do remember my faults this day"—he tells what occurred in the prison—they hasten with the royal command to bring Joseph out—he comes—he explains the dream to Pharaoh—he gives all the glory to God—he says, '' God shall send Pharoah an answer of peace"—he tells him to find out a wise and prudent man to administer the affairs of Egypt, and thus do all that could be done during the seven years of plenty, to prepare for the seven years of famine; and Pharaoh showed his good sense, by immediately suggesting that Joseph should be the man—that he should
have the rule—that Egypt should be placed under his power—that he should be the second person in the kingdom. Did not his bow abide in strength? Will any man dare to tell me, that this was all chance—all accident? Such a man would show that he had very little claim to a sound mind. Chance and accident! No such thing, my brethren; it was the goodness of the Lord. His bow abode in strength —and how? He tells us : by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.
There is something peculiarly interesting, in hearing the old man on his dying bed, give this nametothe Lord —The Lord God of Jacob. A few more days, a few more hours, and Jacob would be gone; but he hands down this name to his children—The God of Jacob. O, there is something delightful, when a father of a family, knowing the blessings and powers of religion, tells his children, My dear children, the God of Jacob is my God; he has been my God through all my pilgrimage—he is my God now—and he will be your God for ever.
Here is a reference to his struggle— his acknowledgment of the support, of the strength given to him. His bow was strengthened by the mighty God of Jacob. The Lord God is the great feeder; the shepherd who provideth for the great flock; " the stone of Israel." This little parenthesis, and the other which you meet with in a former part of the chapter where Jacob says, " I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord," are some expressions of a pious mind, which cannot help bursting forth, even in the midst of the prophecy he is delivering, bursting forth to give all the praise and all the glory to God. Then he goes on adverting to his trials, he speaks of his being despised by his brethren. They hated, they despised him, they sold him, they did all but murder him ; but God was with him, and afterwards raised him up above them all.
There is another thing to be noticed in these words as they relate to Joseph, and that is, he speaks of the God of his father. "Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee, and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that is under, the blessings of the breast and the womb." And
then in the twenty-sixth verse, " The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors, unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills." With what feelings must the dying old saint have enlarged on all these points, when he considered that not long before, Joseph himself had been a captive. But mark— "The God of thy father." Jacob had a profound reverence for Abraham and Isaac, and he wished it now to be understood, that the blessing of his forefathers was descending on his children, while he was going the way of all the earth. Let children learn to seek these blessings, and let parents be such, as that their blessing may be worth hav ing, let them be really devoted to God; so that when they lift their holy hands without wrath or doubting, commending their children to the blessing of God, there may be these recollections on the part of the children, My father was a holy man, he blessed me in God's holy name and now he is gone, I look and I labour for that blessing he pronounced upon me while he was yet alive.
But what is there in all this to us? Some of you are now passing through affliction. You come to your ministers for comfort, and you have a right to look to them to be the channels of comfort to you; but you must look higher than them. God is now preparing you to suffer—the archers shoot at you—one trouble comes after another. I am sure, and I speak advisedly, the troubles and afflictions that come before me, as a minister; brought to my notice in their several details, are sometimes enough to crush my heart. I am ready to say, O that I could help the people, that I could relieve such an one of my brethren in this case, and such an one of my brethren in another case; but I cannot. I can hear their cry, I can sympathize with them, but I cannot take them away. God can. Look at Joseph—sec how he was called to suffer, and see how all/his sufferings were madesubservientto, and preparatory for his enjoyment of the most wonderful prosperity that the world ever witnessed. Are you Christians? Remember that those who are seen in glory, with white robes, and palms in their hands, were once sufferers like you, they once knew what it was to be in trial, trouble, and affliction. "Who are these,", is the inquiry made of St. John. "Sir, thou knowest," said the modest Apostle—" These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
Now you say you hope to get there by and bye. You say you are pilgrims here, and that you have set out from the city of destruction to the city of light, and the land of glory. Then do not be surprized if you have trouble. If God loves you, you are sure to have trouble: "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son that he receiveth." These afflictions, there is a needs be for them. We like them not; but in how many instances God answers our prayers by afflictions! For instance, you ask for the conversion of some of your unconverted brethren—you bring them before God—you entreat him with tears and prayers to give them his grace. He hears the prayer—it is not lost. By and bye comes an angel from heaven with some trial for you, some affliction. Not the affliction that you would like to have, but that which of all others, perhaps, you least wish for, that concerning which, you are ready to say, Any thing but this. No, says your Lord and Master, that is the way I will answer your prayers. I will bring those for whom you have been praying to a knowledge of myself, and the experience of my grace and mercy. Ah, my brethren, we are like
little children, we do not know what is good for us; and the more I see of the church of Christ and the world, and my own heart, the more I see the need of affliction to bring us in the way of heaven. We need affliction to keep us in the way of heaven, and we need affliction to perfect us; for I do believe, that of all the means under heaven, there is none like sanctified affliction. Now the archers seem to be wounding, and one is ready to say, I am wounded, and you come to us and tell us of your wounds; I take you to record this day, do we not take you to the chief Physician, do we not tell you there is balm in Gilead? Then lookin? at the passage, For Our Own Comfort. I ask whether there are not many of you, who through grace have maintained your Christian profession, and sustained your Christian warfare even till now? And how is that? Others that were stronger than you, or that you thought so, have fallen, have gone away and walked no more with us. Some have turned aside to the world, like Demas, who loved this present evil world; but here your bow was made strong by the mighty God of Jacob. Did I address you just now as a sufferer? I did. I address you now, however, as soldiers fighting, bearing up against difficulties, with your bow made strong by the mighty God of Jocob.
Now, my brethren, notwithstanding all our sorrows, I bid you take good heart upon it through God's grace. Yes, a good heart—a good spirit—solid courage of soul; that you may not be daunted, that you may not be dismayed, that you may not be driven to despair—why? Because there is Omnipotence on your side. Though you are poor he is rich, though you are weak he is mighty— he is all in all. What do you want besides? O, that all men would come to Jesus, and take the day as it comes. What shall I do to-morrow? you are saying.
(To be continued)
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