Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

had sold to the Ishmaelites, that it was impossible for them to discover that the person was the fame.

21. Joseph, at the instant that he saw his brethren be. fore him, observing that he was unknown to them, resolved to keep them for a while, in ignorance, that he might have an opportunity of discovering their present difpofitions, and particularly of trying the strength of their affection for their father and their brethren.

22. To carry on this design, he assumed a sternness of aspect, and severity of language, that ill accorded with the tender emotions which this interview had occasioned.

23. He 'reproached them' with coming into Egypt as spies, and required that before they should be permitted to carry a fécond fupply of corn into Canaan, they should prove the truth of the account which they had given of them. Telves, by bringing their younger brother along with them, and in the mean time should leave one of their number bound in prison as a pledge for their return.

24. This demand, which included in it so many affic. ing circumstances, involved them in the utmost perplexity and distress. In the hour of calamity, it is natural for the guilty to upbraid themselves, and ascribe their sufferings to their crimes.

25. The horrid plot which they had formerly devised a gainst their brother's life, and their cruelty in turning a deaf ear to his cries, and abandoning him to all the wretchedniels of slavery, now rose before their imaginations in their true colors.

26. Their consciences accused them ; and they said one to another, in their own language, “ We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he befought us, and we would not hear, there. fore is this distress come upon us.” Joseph was so touched with this scene that he was obliged to turn aside and weep.

27. Determined however, to execute his design, he foon resumed his counterfeited severity, and persisted in requir. ing them to bring their younger brother. :

28. When Jacob heard the hard conditions on which they were to expect the continuance of the necessary supplies of food, he was beyond meaiure afflicted, and refused to comply.

29. At length, however, finding that no other resource remained, he consented, and with a heart full of grief said, “ If it, niust be so now, take your brother, and arise, go again unto the man ; and God Almighty give you mercy. before the man, that he may send away your other brother and Benjamin : if I be berieved of my children, I am bereaved."

30. On their second arrival in Egypt, the governor find. ing they had obeyed his orders, received them with great kindness, and so far indulged the natural feelings of his heart as to inquire affectionately concerning their father, and give the young stranger a cordial welcome.

31. “ He asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well ? the old man of whom ye spake, is he yet alive ? And they answered, thy servant our faiher is in good health, he is yet alive ; and they bowed their heads, and made obeisance.”

32. And seeing Benjamin his mother's son, he said, “ Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me ? and he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son.” .

33. The scene now became too interesting to be supported without the natural relief of tears : that he might not therefore prevent the complete execution of his purpose by a premature discovery, he retired into his chamber and wept there.

34. After having received several tokens of kindress from the governor, they set out with fresh supplies of corn on their journey homewards ; but Joseph, who now became impatient to discover himself to his brethren, made use of an artifice to recal them, and to give him an opportunity of revealing the important fecret.

35. Having ordered the silver cup out of which he drank to be privately conveyed into Benjamin's fack of corn, he called them back, charged them with the theft, and required that the person in whose fack it should be found should be his servant.

36. When the cup was found with Benjamin, all his brethren were exceedingly afflicted for their father; and Juldah, in a moit pathetic {peech, acquainted the governor with all the particulars of the case, and entreated that he himself might be permitted to remain a bondman instead of Benjamin.

37. Joseph was now sufficiently convinced that his brethren retained a dutiful and affectionate regard for their fath. er, that mutual harmony fubfisted among themselves, and that they fincerely repented of their former behavior to. wards him.

38. It was enough : his generous heart desired no more. Unwilling to give them pain for a single moment longer than was necessary to discover their present dispositions ;

39. Unable, after what had passed, to disguise his feel. ings, and suppress the strong emotions that struggled with. in him ; commanding the attendants to withdraw, a flood of tears burst from his eyes, and he said unto his brethren, “ I am Joseph. Doth my father yet live ? And his brethren could not answer him..

40. And Joseph said unto his brethren, come near to me I pray you ; and they came near ; and he said, I am Jo. feph your brother, whom ye fold into Egypt : now therefore be not grieved nor angry, with yourselves, that ye fold me hither ; for God did send me before you to preserve life.”

41. Before we proceed with the narrative, let us pause to admire the tender, generous and noble spirit which Jo. seph discovered through the whole of this interesting scene. His fudden and extraordinary advancement had not so far elated his fpirit, as to render him capable of looking down with contempt on his brethren ;

*42. Absence had not worn out the impressions, which natural relation and early connections had made ; nor had even the malicious barbarity of his brethren, in that scene of his life which was too distressful ever to be forgotton, been able to tear afunder the bonds of nature.

43. Though they had injured him beyond reparation; though he had suffered such indignities and cruelties as might have been sufficient to have justified the warmelt re. fentment ; he still remembered that the persons who had treated him in this manner were his brethren ; .

44. He still felt the powerful attractions of natural af. fection ; and, finding them difposed to receive, and capable of enjoying, his friendship, he used his utmost endeavors to establish a mutual and lasting attachment.

4.5. He did not satisfy himself with coldly affuring theni that he had forgiven them; he restored them to a place in his heart, treated them with every external mark of kindness, and continued, through the remainder of his life, to render them the most important and generous services.

46. Such generosity as this, it is much easier to admire than to imitate. When we are called to make the applica. tion, and to exhibit in our own conduct fimilar examples of of a forgiving temper, we are too apt to imagine that there are some essential peculiarities in our circumstances, which may serve as a "reasonable apology for indulging our re. sentments.

47. Though the injury we have suffered may bear no pro. portion to that which Jofeph knew how to forgive ; though no attempt has been made on our life, our liberty, or our property ;

48. Though perhaps the offence that has been committed amounts to nothing more than an angry word, a censo. rious reflection, a bold contradiction of our opinion, or merely a violation of the rules of good breeding and politeness;

49. Yet we find means to persuade ourselves that the culprit has no claim to forgivenesș, and that to persist in our refentment against him is innocent and even laudable. The true reason of this is, that we do not in reality poffefs so much of the genuine fpirit of benevolence and piety as we may perhaps perfuade others, and ourselves, to imagine.

50. · How much soever men may declaim on the excel. lence of charity, and boast of their philanthropy, they are in reality destitute of this divine principle, if it hath not taught them the lessons of forbearance and forgiveness ; for charity suffereth long, is not easily provoked ; bear. eth all things ; endureth all things.”

51. Nor is a disposition to refèntment and revenge confistent with a becoming regard to the Supreme Power ; for the genuine principles of religion would teach us, that even the passions and vices of men, under the direction of the wise Governor of the world, contribute towards the general order and happiness ; :52. And would enabe us to bear with the infirmities of our brethren, with an humble reliance on that Providence which can bring harmony out of discord, good out of evil.. It was on these principles that Joseph reasoned, when he faid to his brethren, “ Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good.”

53. There is yet another part of Jofeph's history, which places his character in a peculiarly amiable point of view, and suggests the most useful instructions ; namely, his behavior towards his father and his brethren, after he had made himself known to them. *

54. Far from being ashamed of his descent from an obfcure Canaanite, and his relation to a family of shepherds, he rejoiced in the opportunity which his rank and authority gave him, of making the last days of his aged parent easy and comfortable, and granting his whole family an agreea. ble settlement in Egypt. i

55. Had he been governed by that foolish vanity, which in weak and depraved minds is often the effect of sudden elevation, he would gladly have availed himself of the difguise which his new station afforded him, and continued unknown to his brethren : he would rather have chosen to suppress the efforts of natural affection on their unexpected ap. pearance before him, than to disgrace himfelf by acknowl. edging such poor and obscure relations : ..

56. Or if, in the struggle between pride and natural af. fection, the latter had so far prevailed, as to induce him to afford them support and assistance, he would have thought the obligations of the filial and fraternal relations sufficiently discharged, by privately granting them fupplies in their own country.

57. But Joseph was too wise, and too good, to suffer a. ny portion of this contemptible species of pride to find a place in his heart. The first ideas which occurred to his mind, after the tender emotions which attended the discov. ery of himself to his brethren had subsided, were, not, “ How shall I avoid the disgrace which this discovery will bring on me? In what manner shall I dispose of these poor shepherds, to escape the ridicule and contempt of the courtiers, and the king my master ?”

58. But "How shall I most effectually employ my pow. er and influence in the service of my family ? His message to his father by his brethren was this, “ God hath made me lord of all Egypt ; come down unto me, tarry not, and thou shalt dwell in the land of Godhen ;

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »