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steward of his house. It is the next part of the story, which we read this morning, that reveals what has been passing within him; what has been the effect of the pit, his banishment, his slavery. The words to his master's wife, Can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ? tell us that the child of the covenant believes the covenant. Away from the tents in which he has been brought up, without any outward tokens to remind him of any lessons he has received there, in an hour of tremendous temptation, he confesses a righteous Ruler, whom he is to obey; he trusts in Him, and does obey Him; he goes to prison for it. His dream is not very likely to be fulfilled; the sheaves are not bowing down to him—the sun and the moon are not doing him any
obeiBut he hears of other dreams. vants of Pharaoh are troubled with the thoughts that have come into their minds. They long for a diviner. Joseph tells them that dreams belong to God. He has been learning a wonderful lesson. Other men's thoughts and dreams come from God as well as his. The child of the covenant is not a witness for his own privileges, for his own relation to God. In him and in his seed all the families of the earth are to be blessed. He is to be a witness to all of the source from which thoughts, intimations, prophecies, come. He believes God who has sent the dream can give the interpretation. He declares the riddle to them, and, as he said, it comes to pass. At the next stage of the history he is brought before Pharaoh, who has also dreamed dreams. They concern not himself, but the land he governs.
He has consulted diviners, who cannot tell him what they mean. Joseph believes that God hath sent these dreams for a purpose; that He cares for the land of Egypt; that he wishes Pharaoh to know what is coming upon it; that he wishes him to provide for the future. The Hebrew boy becomes the first man in Egypt; the dispenser of corn to that land, and other lands. His brethren come to buy, and bow before him. He knows them, and they know not him. Then remembers he the dreams which he had dreamed of them.
I wish to fix your minds upon this part of the narrative; the other portions of it may come before us in the lessons for next Sunday. We all fancy that we understand the story of Joseph and his brethren; though perhaps there are depths in it, even as a domestic record, which we have none of us penetrated. But those passages of it which respect his own dream, and the dreams of the servants of the king, and of the king himself, are often regarded as merely ornamental, half mythical, additions which we are glad to pass
I believe we do so at a very serious loss to ourselves—at a very great risk of falling into the superstitions which we are most careful to avoid. You acknowledge the fact of dreams ; you acknowledge that people have been puzzled by them in past ages, and probably are now. You acknowledge that people have been made the victims of the most wretched impostures through their eagerness to find a way out of the perplexities which the thoughts on their bed have caused them. Where is the escape from this danger? Do you think it comes by shewing that the mere scenery of dreams is borrowed from the external world—from the places and circumstances with which we are familiar when we are awake ? Yes—but when you have proved all that, you have left the great riddle unsolved; the real cause of human anxieties just where it was. I bring all this scenery about me in my dreams; but how do I bring it? What are the thoughts which invest themselves with that scenery? Who am I the dreamer? Till you have found a reply to these
a questions, you may produce endless theories of dreams and apparitions, but you have not taken one step to relieve the heart of its confusion, or to prevent it from seeking all unlawful, mischievous aids to quiet itself. Joseph met it with this answer, • Dreams belong to God.' However your thoughts came to you, do not seek by tricks and magic to make their meaning clearer to you. There is an unseen teacher of your spirit, to whom you may refer these and all your perplexities. There is a righteous and true Being, whom you may consult about them. No doubt there is a purpose in all He does; be sure that His purposes with you, His human creatures, are specially wonderful. And He means you to discern them. He does not intend your lives to be dark enigmas to you,
All this, you say, belongs to an early stage of history. I grant you that it does.
fesses to belong to that stage. But if dreams are, there should be some words to tell us that they are under a law, that they do not come by accident, that they have a connexion with the mysteries of our being, that they may have to do with the future as well as the past. Other deeper truths may be told us as we proceed ; but these cannot be indifferent to us. Men in the early times may have been more troubled by their dreams than we are, and therefore it was fitting that the help needful for escaping from the trouble should be given especially to them. But they do affect us, whether we are frank enough to confess it or not. We know that though our dreams may never have told us anything about that which is to come, they have told us secrets of our own experience; they have shewn us how near dark fierce thoughts which we fancied at a great distance were lying to us. The confusion which is in them reminds many how confused and incoherent their waking existence is. They bring past, present, and future so strangely together, that they force all to feel, if they do not reflect, that there must be some conditions of our minds which are different from the conditions of space and time. There is something in them then, which needs to be interpreted. I think the interpretation for us and for the old world lies in the belief, that we are under a living and Divine Teacher who does not wish us to walk in darkness.
But you care so much more for the thoughts of the day than of the night; they are so much
more practically important. True ; and so much more wonderful.
When shall we know how wonderful they are ? Oh brethren, if you have ever been really lost in the mazes of your own thoughts; if they have been so tormenting to you that you would have fled from them, if you could, to utter vacancy, almost idiotcy,—if you have found them interfere with all manly action, and the maddest course of action seemed better than the indulgence of them—if you have, any of you, been in a state approaching to this—and how many noble spirits at certain periods of their history have not only approached it, but realized it — oh how would
. you welcome the words, The interpretation of these belongs to God.' And when we have listened to all magicians and diviners, calling themselves philosophers or priests—and have tried their medicines for stifling thought and doubt, their systems of opinion, their rules of conduct, and have exclaimed • Miserable comforters are ye all,' we must at last, in despair of them and of ourselves, grasp, if it be with ever so feeble a hand, at this
If we do, how shall we have to rejoice and give thanks for having been cast into deep pits and mire, where no ground is; for then is a man able to hear a voice which says to him,
When thou walkest through the waters I will be with thee, through the rivers they shall not overflow thee. Lo, I am with thee always.'
There are crises, however, in a man's life, when he is neither troubled with the dreams of the night nor of the day, when he is called to act,