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Acts vii. 9, 10. And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Ei^f/pt: but God ivas with him, and delivered him out of all his (ifflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharoah king of Egypt ; and he made him governor over Egypt, and all his hoiise.
1 HE history of Joseph is both entertaining and instructive, and that man who can read it through without a tear, can scarcely be said to possess the common feelings of humanity. Joseph has been considered as a type of Jesus » and it is impossible to real his history without perceiving a striking resemblance in many important particulars ; but the history of Joseph should be read, principally, as an astonishing display of that divine providence which presides over the affairs of men.
176^ jeSEPH SOLD I TO EGYPTc Our text will lead us to consider several imf portant events in this history ; and it may be divided into two parts : first, the conduct of the Patriarchs towards Joseph : and, secondly, the conduct of God towards him. I. The conduct of the patriarchs towards JOSEPH.
The word Patriarch signifies a father ; and the sons of Jacob were so called, because they were the fathers of the tribes of Israd. ine of them only were concerned in the horrid transaction which we are about to examine ;; for Benjamin was absent, and Reuben did not consent, having formed a plan for his brother's deliverance* And Reuben said unto them, shed no blood, but cast him into this pit in the ivilderness, and lay no hand upon him ; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father agnin. Gen. xxxvii. 22. The Patriarchs envied Joseph. Envy is that uneasiness which a man feels at the piosperity and happiness of another; audit is one of the most tormenting passions to which human nature can be subject. It perpetually corrodes and tears the heart, by turning the happiness of others into a source of misery. It wastes the
JOSEPH SOLD I TO EGYPT. 177 life, and destroys the comfort of that man who suffers it to take root in his heart. One cause of envy in the Patriarchs was the fond partiality of Joseph's father, oiv Israel loted Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age : a7id he made him n coat of many colours. Gen. xxxvii. 3. That coat caused Joseph many a bitter sigh. Parents should carefully guard against blind partiality ; and if they feel partial to one child, on account of some promising appearances, they should not distinguish him by a coat of many colours^ lest by exposing him to envy, they cause
him to suffer as Joseph did. Another canse of their envy was the dreams of Joseph. Those dreams were evidently of the Lord, who foresaw his future greatness, and made it known in this remarkable way. Joseph dreamed that he was to receive homage both from his father and his brethren : and when he related his dreams, his brethren envied him ; but his father observed the saying. Gen. xxxvii. 11. Out of scorn and contempt^ the Patriarchs called him the dreamer. BehoMy this dreamer comet h. Come noiv therefore and let us slay him, and cast him into some AA
178 JOSEPH SOLD I TO EGYPT. pit, and we will sat/ some evil beast hath devour^ ed him : and ive shall see what will become of his dreanis. Gen. xxxvii. 19, 20. Influenced by this diabolical passion, thei^ sold Joseph into Egypt. They had intended ta have murdered him, and no doubt would haver done so but for the interference of Reuben and Judah. Judah at first was disposed to kill him, but a fair opportunity just then offering itself to dispose of him without shedding blood, he said, What profit is it ijwe slay our brother^ and conceal his blood ? Come, and let us sell him iff the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Gen. xxxvii. 26, 27. What a strange thing that men should buy and sell each other ! Prisoners taken in war have often been sold for slaves ; but here brothers^ under the influence of envy, sell a brother.
Surely their envy was iil^e that of the devil, who is ever restless and miserable ia beholding the happiness of men. O let us guard against this hellish principle, and carefully cultivate a spirit of benevolence aijd good-will> even towards our enemies ! One crime frequently begets another, and when a man falls into sin, it is difficult to say where it may end. When the
JOSEPH SOLD I TO EGYPT. 179 Patriarchs had sold Joseph, to satisfy their cruel envy, they were under the necessity of inventing a lie to conceal their crime. The bloody coat was presented to Jacob, who wept, and lamented the loss of his son, supposing him to "have been torn by some beast of prey. He knew the coat again, and said. It is my sons coat; an evil beast hath devoured Mm ; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. And Jacob rent Ms clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for Ms son many days. Gen. xxxvii. 33, 34. Thus they deceived their aged father ; but God, who had beheld their vile conduct, could not be deceived. n. The conouct of god towards Joseph^ Joseph was sold, h\xi God was with Mm. It is probable that Joseph feared God before this event happened, and if so, he had the consolations of religion, when all other consolations failed. He was removed far from his pious father 5 but the God of his father was with him. Distance of place often interrupts paternal kindness ; but the kindness of God, our father, may be enjoyed in every place. Joseph was banished from his brethren, and from every domestic comfort; but he could not
be banished from his God. How pleasiim is Aa2
180 JOSEPH SOLD I TO EGYPT. the thought, that the God whom we serve is not a local being, but a God who fills heaven and earth ! He is with us, though we do not see his form, and we enjoy his presence, though invisible. All good men have God with them, wherever they go. He watches over them bath by day and by night, and condescends to be their guardian and their faithful friend. While God is with us, we cannot want: while he is with us, we need not fear. He is far better than earthly parents, and more to be desired than either wealth or friends. o doubt Joseph worship-' ped the God of Jacob ; and Jacob's God was with him, to accept and bless that worship. He was nigh when Joseph prayed ; and he notice^ the praises and thanksgivings of his servant. God delivered Joseph out of all his afflictions . He had many painfVil afflictions in Egypt. He was tempted by a lewd woman, who, w^hen her vile vqshes could not be accomplished, blasted bis character by lies and falsehood. He was cast into a dungeon. But the Lord was with Joseph^ and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. Gen. xxxix. 21. There Joseph interpreted the dreams of the chief But. ler and the chief Baker, his fellow-prisoners. Pliaraoli restored the chief Butler to his hutleri.hip ffgain ; and he gave the cvp into PharaolCs.
JOSEPH SOLD I TO EGYPT, 181
hand: hut he hanged the chief Baker, as Joseph Jiad inierpreted to than. Yet did not the chief Bnila reimmber Jobcph, hid forgot Mm, Gen. xl. 21 — 23. Afflictions attend good men wherever they go ; but God delivers them. He delivered Joseph not once only, but always. He delivered him out of all his afflictions. He had lost his father; but he lived to see him again. He had been hated by his brethren ; but the day came when they loved, honoured, and bow* ed down to him. He had been disgraced ; but great honour followed his disgrace. He had been forgotten ; but God caused him to be remembered. He had been in a prison ; but was advanced next to the tlirone of Pharaoh. What wonderful changes ! What astonishing diliverances ! The God of Joseph gave him favour and wiS' dom in the ught of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Pharaoh dreamed, but neither he nor his wise men could interpret, The report of Pharaoh's dreani!^ brought Joseph to the reccllection of the chief Butler, and he was sent for by the king. Phamoh's dreams, like thof?e of Joseph, were of God; and God gave Joseph wisdom to interpret, and the interpretation gave him flavour in the sight of Pharaoh. Thus all Jo,
18^ JOSEPH SOLD I t6 EGYPT. areph's honours were of God,wh^, when he pleases, can raise his servants high in the esteeni of earthly monarchs, Pharaoh influenced by the God of Joseph made him governor over the land of Egypt, and
all his house. It is not often necessary for good men to be exalted in this world; but when God sees fit, how easy it is for hirn to exalt them ! God makes men great, that they may be useful. In this instance Joseph was exalted for the good of others ; he was blessed, that he might be made a blessing. In that high station, Joseph, as an instrument, sayed the lives of the Egyptians. During seven years of plenty he laid up sufficient stores of food for seven years pf famine." — Let the prudent foresight of Joseph teach us to jay up stores of heavenly treasure, O that we could see thousands, I^aying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eter-^ life! iTim. vi. 19. Joseph in his exalted station was made an instrument of saving his own family. The fa^ mine reached Canaan, and was felt by good old Jacob. The brethren of Joseph came down to boy corn, and they were ^mply supplied. It
JOafiPK »OLD I TO EGYPT. 1&3 -WsiS on one of those journies that the prophetic dreams of Joseph were fulfilled ; for his brethren bowed themselves to him to the earth. Gen. xliii. 26. Jacob also came down into Egypt< ^d was richly provided for in the land of Goshen. Joseph nourished his father, and his hrethren, and all his father s hotisehold, with breads according to their families. Gen. xlvii. 12. It is very observable, that God often uses means to accomplish his purposes, which are very unlikely to men. Here we see a poor despised Hebrew raised to high honour and power, that he might save a great nation and a chosen fami-
ly. A poor slave, a degraded prisoner, raised next to the throne of Pharaoh ! Happy is the laud which hath such a governor ! All things prosper where wisdom and piety are found in the rulers of a nation. Happy th^ parent who hath such a son ! Happy the brethren wlw) have such a brother! And happy, thrice happy are we, who have the lovely Jesus for our Sa?iour ! To conclude : Let us learn to rejoice in the prosperity of other men, and to crush the spirit of envy in the bud. Let us also rejoice in the presence of God- It is no matter where we pitch our tents, whether in Canaan, in Egypt,
184 J()SEPH SOLD I TO EGYPT. or in the wilderness, if God be with us. Therel is a gracious God who over-rules had purposes for good ends. Those Svho are near to us may design our ruin ; but all the designs of God are to bless and save our souls. Innocency and uprightness shall finally triumph ; and sin, however artfully concealed, will be brought to light, and in the end^ without repentance, w ill disgrace and destroy the sinner. God still governs the world. Jesus still cares for men. The Jews sought to destroy Jesus ; but God highly exalted him at his own right hand, where he ever lives to bless his people. Whe7i all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said untd all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; and what he saith to you, do. Gen. xli. 55i. Thus let us go to the blessed Jesus, and what he saith unto us let us do with cheerfulness. Then, being fed with that bread which came down from
heaven, we shall live for over !
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