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Again, It is a natural example of the effect of adversity, in bringing men to themselves, to reflections upon their own conduct, to a sense and perception of many things, which had gone on, and might have gone on, unthought of and unperceived, if it had not been for some stroke of misfortune, which roused their attention. It was after the Brethren of Joseph had been shut up by him in prison, and were alarmed, as they well might be, for their lives, that their consciences, so far as appears, for the first time, smote them : “ We
are verily guilty concerning our brother, in « that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he
besought us, and would not hear.” This is the natural and true effect of judgments in this world, to bring us to a knowledge of ourselves : that is to say, of those bad things in our lives, which have deserved the calamities, we are made to suffer.
These are all points in the history: but there is another point in Joseph's character, which I make choice of, as the subject of my present discourse; and that is, his dutifulness and affection to his father. Never was this virtue more strongly displayed. It runs, like a thread, through the whole narrative; and whether we regard it, as a quality to be admired, or, which would be a great deal better, as a quality to be imitated by us, so far as a great disparity of circumstances will allow of imitation, (which in principle it always will do,) it deserves to be considered with a separate and distinct attention.
When a surprizing course of events had given to Joseph, after a long series of years, a most unexpected opportunity of seeing his Brethren in Egypt, the first question, which he asked them, was,
“ Is your father yet alive ?" This appears from the account, which Reuben gave to Jacob, of the conference, which they had held with the great man of the country, whilst neither of them, as yet, suspected who he was. Joseph, you remember, had concealed himself, during their first journey, from the knowledge of his Brethren; and it was not
consistent with his disguise, to be more full and particular, than he was, in his enquiries.
On account of the continuance of the famine in the land, it became necessary for the brethren of Joseph to go a second time into Egypt to seek corn, and a second time to produce themselves before the Lord of the country. What had been Joseph's first question on the former visit, was his first question in this, “Is your Father well, the old man of whom ye spake; is he yet alive ?” And they answered, “ thy servant, our Father, is in good health, he is yet alive:” and they bowed down their heads and made obeisarice,
Hitherto you observe all had passed in disguise. The brethren of Joseph knew nothing who they were speaking to; and Joseph was careful to preserve the secret. You will now take notice, how this affected disguise was broken, and how Joseph found himself forced, as it were, from the resolution, he had taken, of keeping his brethren in ignorance of his person. He had proposed, you read, to detain Benjamin ; the rest being perplexed beyond measure, and distressed by this proposal, Judah, approaching Joseph, presented a most earnest supplication for the deliverance of the child; offers himself to remain Joseph's prisoner, or slave, in his brother's place; and, in the conclusion, touches, unknowingly, upon a string, which vibrates with all the affections of the person, whom he was addressing. “ How
, shall I go up
to my Father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my Father."
The mention of this circumstance, and this person, subdued immediately the heart of Joseph; and produced a sudden, and, as it should seem, an undesigned premature discovery of himself to his astonished family. Then, that is, upon this circumstance being mentioned, Joseph could not refrain himself; and, after a little preparation, Joseph said unto his Brethren, “ I am Joseph."
The great secret being now disclosed; what was the conversation, which immediately followed? The next word from Josepli's mouth was, “ doth my Father yet live?” and his Brethren could not answer him ; surprise had overcome their faculty of utterance. After comforting, however, and encouraging his Brethren, who seemed to sink under the intelligence, Joseph proceeds, “ Haste
“ Haste ye, and
go up to my Father, and say unto him, thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not and thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, and there will I nourish thee, (for yet there are five years of
, famine,) lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast come to poverty. And ye shall tell my Father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen: and ye shall haste, and bring down my Father hither."
It is well known, that Jacob yielded to this invitation, and passed over with his family into Egypt.
The next thing to be attended to, is the reception, which he then met with, from his recover