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bunger, what it was for Joseph to be fa- , sible and glorious ; but the heart that is mished to death.
bent upon God, knows how to walk steaWhatsoever they thought, God never dily and indifferently betwixt the pleasures meant that Joseph should perish in that of sin and fears of evil. He saw this pleapit; and therefore he sends the very Ish sure would advance him: he knew what maelites to ransom him from his brethren: it was to be a minion of one of the greatthe seed of him that persecuted his brother est ladies of Egypt, yet resolves to contemn. Isaac, shall now redeem Joseph from his A good heart will rather lie in the dust, brethren's persecution. When they came than rise by wickedness: “ How shall I to fetch him out of the pit, he now hoped do this, and sin against God?" for a speedy despatch : that since they | He knew that all the honours of Egypt seemed not to have so much mercy as to could not buy off the guilt of one sin ; and prolong his life, they would not continue therefore abhors not only her bed, but her so much cruelty as to prolong his death. company. He that will be safe from the
And now, when he hath comforted him- acts of evil, must wisely avoid the occasions. self with hope of the favour of dying, be- | As sin ends ever in shame, when it is comhold death exchanged for bondage! How mitted, so it makes us past shame, that much is servitude, to an ingenuous nature, we may commit it. The impudent strumworse than death! for this is common to pet dare not only solicit, but importune, all; that, to none but the miserable. Judah and in a sort force the modesty of her good meant this well, but God better. Reuben servant: she lays hold on his garment; saved him from the sword; Judah from her hand seconds her tongue. famishing. God will ever raise up some Good Joseph found it now time to fly, secret favourers to his own, amongst those when such an enemy pursued him: how that are most malicious. How well was much had he rather leave his cloak than this favour bestowed! If Joseph had died his virtue! and to suffer his mistress to for hunger in the pit, both Jacob and Judah, spoil him of his livery, rather than he should and all his brethren, had died for hunger blemish her honour, or his master's in her, in Canaan. Little did the Ismaelitish mer- or God in either of them! chants know what a treasure they bought, This second time is Joseph stript of his carried, and sold; more precious than all garment: before, in the violence of envy, their balm and myrrhs. Little did they now, of lust; before, of necessity, now, think that they had in their hands the lord of choice; before, to deceive his father, of Egypt, the jewel of the world. Why now, his master: for behold, the pledge of should we contemn any man's meanness, his fidelity, which he left in those wicked when we know not his destiny?
hands, is made an evidence against him, of One sin is commonly used for the veil that which he refused to do: therefore did of another : Joseph's coat is sent home he leave his cloak, because he would not dipped in blood, that, while they should do that of which he is accused and conhide their own cruelty, they might afflict demned, because he left it. What safety is their father, no less than their brother. there against great adversaries, when even They have devised this real lie, to punish arguments of innocence are used to convince their old father, for his love, with so grie- of evil! Lust yielded unto is a pleasant vous a monument of his sorrow.
madness; but is a desperate madness when He that is mourned for in Canaan as it is opposed: no hatred burns so furiously dead, prospers in Egypt under Potiphar; as that which arises from the quenched and of a slave, is made ruler. Thus God coals of love. meant to prepare him for a greater charge ; Malice is witty to devise accusations of he must first rule Potiphar's house, then others, out of their virtue and our own Pharaoh's kingdom: his own service is his guiltiness. Joseph either pleads not, or is least good, for his very presence procures not heard. a common blessing: a whole family shall | Doubtless he denied the fact, but he fare the better for one Joseph. Virtue is dare not accuse the offender. There is not not looked upon alike with all eyes: his only the praise of patience, but ofttimes of fellows praise him, his master trusts him, wisdom, even in unjust sufferings. He his mistress affects him too much. All the knew that God would find a time to clear spite of his brethren was not so great a his innocence, and to regard his chaste Cross to him, as the inordinate affection of faithfulness. his mistress. Temptations on the right No prison would serve him but Phahand are now more perilous, and hard to raoh's. Joseph had lain obscure, and not resist, by how much they are more plau- been known to Pharaoh, if he had not been
cast into Pharaoh's dungeon. The afflic- adjoining were no less fruitful; yet, in the
vish is not only empty, but injurious.
| inquisition, to fetch far about: that he might Pharaoh hath not more preferred Joseph, seem enough an Egyptian, he swears hea. than Joseph hath enriched Pharaoh : if thenishly: how little could they suspect Joseph had not ruled, Egypt and all the this oath would proceed from the son of bordering nations had perished. The pro- him, which swore by the fear of his favidence of so faithful an officer hath both father Isaac! How oft have sinister respects given the Egyptians their lives, and the drawn weak goodness to disguise itself, even money, cattle, lands, bodies of the Egyp. | with sins ! tians, to Pharaoh. Both have reason to be! It was no small joy to Joseph, to see well pleased. The subjects owe to him this late accomplishment of his ancient their lives ; the king his subjects, and his | dream ; to see these suppliants (I know dominions. The bounty of God made Jo- not whether more brethren or enemies) seph able to give more than he received: grovelling before him in an unknown sub. it is like, the seven years of plenty were mission : and now it doth him good to seem not confined to Egypt : other countries merciless to them, whom he had found
* Bow the knee.
wilfully cruel: to hide his love from them! At length (as no plea is so importunate which had showed their hate to him, and as that of famine) Benjamin must go: one to think how much he favoureth them, and evil must be hazarded for the redress of how little they know it: and as, sporting another. What would it avail him, to see himself in their seeming misery, he plea- whom he loved miserable? How injurious santly imitates all those actions reciprocally were that affection, to keep his son so long unto them, which they in despite and in his eye, till they should see each other earnest had done formerly to him; he die for hunger! speaks roughly, rejects their persuasions, The ten brothers return into Egypt, pats them in hold, and one of them in loaded with double money in their sacks, bonds. The mind must not always be and a present in their hands: the danger judged by the outward face of the actions. of mistaking is requited, by honest minds, God's countenance is ofttimes as severe, with more than restitution. It is not and his hand as heavy to them whom he enough to find our own hearts clear in best loveth. Many a one, under the habit suspicious actions, except we satisfy others of an Egyptian, hath the heart of an Israel. | Now hath Joseph what he would, the ite. No song could be so delightful to him, sight and presence of his Benjamin, whom as to hear them, in a late remorse, con- he therefore borrows of his father for a demn themselves before him, of their old time, that he might return him with a cruelty towards him, who was now their greater interest of joy: and now he feasts unknown witness and judge.
them whom he formerly threatened, and Nothing doth so powerfully call home turns their fear into wonder. All unequal the conscience as affliction, neither need love is not partial; all the brethren are there any other art of memory for sin, entertained bountifully, but Benjamin hath besides misery. They had heard Joseph's a five-fold portion. By how much his wel. deprecation of their evil with tears, and come was greater, by so much his pretended had not pitied him; yet Joseph doth but theft seemed more heinous ; for good turns hear their mention of this evil which they aggravate unkindness, and our offences are had done against him, and pities them with increased with our obligations. How easy tears: he weeps for joy to see their repent. is it to find advantages, where there is a ance, and to compare his safety and happi-purpose to accuse! Benjamin's sack makes ness with the cruelty which they intended, him guilty of that whereof his heart was and did, and thought they had done. free. Crimes seem strange to the innocent.
Yet he can abide to see his brother his Well might they abjure this fact, with the prisoner, whom no bonds could bind so offer of bondage and death: for they, which strong, as his affection bound him to his carefully brought again that which they captive. Simeon is left in pawn, in fetters; might have taken, would never take that the rest return with their corn, with their which was not given them. But thus money, paying nothing for their provision Joseph would yet dally with his brethren, but their labour; that they might be as and make Benjamin a thief, that he might much troubled with the beneficence of that make him a servant, and fright his brethren strange Egyptian lord, as before with his with the peril of that their charge, that he imperious suspicion. Their wealth was might double their joy and amazedness, in now more irksome to them than their need ; giving them two brothers at once. Our and they fear God means to punish them happiness is greater and sweeter, when we more in this superfluity of money, than in have well feared and smarted with evils. the want of victuals. " What is this that But now when Judah seriously reported God hath done to us?" It is a wise course the danger of his old father, and the sad. to be jealous of our gain ; and more to ness of his last complaint, compassion and fear, than desire abundance.
joy will be concealed no longer, but break Old Jacob, that was not used to simple forth violently at his voice and eyes. Many and absolute contentments, receives the passions do not well abide witnesses, beblessing of seasonable provision, together cause they are guilty to their own weakness. with the affliction of that heavy message, Joseph sends forth his servants, that he the loss of one son, and the danger of might freely weep. He knew he could not another; and knows not whether it be better say I am Joseph, without an unbeseeming for him to die with hunger, or with grief, vehemence. for the departure of that son of his right Never any word sounded so strangely as hand. He drives off all till the last. Pro. this in the ears of the patriarchs. Wonder, traction is a kind of ease in evils that must doubt, reverence, joy, fear, hope, guiltiness, come.
struck them at once. It was time for Jo. seph to say, “Fear not:" no marvel if they | the knowledge thereof doubled. Over. stood with paleness and silence before him, excellent objects are dangerous in their looking on him, and on each other. The sudden apprehensions. One grain of that more they considered, they wondered more; joy would have safely cheered him, whereand the more they believed, the more they of a full measure overlays his heart with feared. For these words, “ I am Joseph," too much sweetness. There is no earthly seemed to sound thus much to their guilty pleasure whereof we may not surfeit: of thoughts:- You are murderers, and I am the spiritual we can never have enough. a prince in spite of you. My power, and! Yet his eyes revive his mind, which his this place, give me all opportunities of re-ears had thus astonished. When he saw venge: my glory is your shame, my life the chariots of his son, he believed Joseph's your danger; your sins live together with life, and refreshed his own. He had too me. But now the tears and gracious words much before, so that he could not enjoy it: of Joseph have soon assured them of par- now he saith, “I have enough ; Joseph don and love, and have bidden them turn my son is yet alive.” their eyes from their sin against their bro-! They told him of his honour; he speaks ther, to their happiness in him, and have of his life : life is better than honour. To changed their doubts into hopes and joys, have heard that Joseph lived a servant, causing them to look upon him without would have joyed him more, than to hear fear, though not without shame. His loving that he died honourably. The greater blessembracements clear their hearts of all jea-ing obscures the less. He is not worthy lousies, and hasten to put new thoughts of honour, that is not thankful for life. into them of favour, and of greatness; so Yet Joseph's life did not content Jacob, that now forgetting what evil they did to without his presence: “I will go down and their brother, they are thinking of what see him, ere I die.” The sight of the eye good their brother may do to them. Ac- is better than to walk in desires. Good tions, salved up with a free forgiveness, things pleasure us not in their being, but ue as not one: and as a bone once broken in our enjoying. is stronger after well setting, so is love after The height of all earthly contentment reconcilement.
appeared in the meeting of these two, But as wounds once healed leave a scar whom their mutual loss had more endeared behind them, so remitted injuries leave to each other. The intermission of comcommonly in the actors a guilty remem- forts hath this advantage, that it sweetens brance, which hindered these brethren from our delight more in the return, than was that freedom of joy, which else they had abated in the forbearance. God doth oftconceived. This was their fault, not Jo. times hide away our Joseph for a time, seph's, who strives to give them all security that we may be more joyous and thankful of his love, and will be as bountiful as they in his recovery. This was the sincerest were cruel. They send him naked to pleasure that ever Jacob had, which therestrangers ; he sends them in new and rich | fore God reserved for his old age. liveries to their father: they took a small And if the meeting of earthly friends sum of money for him; he gives them great be so unspeakably comfortable, how happy treasures: they sent his torn coat to his shall we be in the light of the glorious face father; he sends variety of costly raiments of God our heavenly Father! of that of to his father, by them: they sold him to our blessed Redeemer, whom we sold to be the load of camels ; he sends them home death by our sins; and which now, after with chariots. It must be a great favour, that noble triumph, hath all power given that can appease the conscience of a great him in heaven and earth! injury. Now they return home, rich and Thus did Jacob rejoice, when he was to joyful, making themselves happy to think go out of the land of promise to a foreign how glad they should make their father nation, for Joseph's sake; being glad that with this news.
he should lose his country for his son. That good old man would never have What shall our joy be, who must go out of hoped, that Egypt could have afforded | this foreign land of our pilgrimage, to the such provision as this — “ Joseph is yet | home of our glorious inheritance, to dwell alive." This was not food, but life to him. with none but our own, in that better and The return of Benjamin was comfortable ; more lightsome Goshen, free from all the but that his dead son was yet alive, after encumbrances of this Egypt, and full of all so many years' lamentation, was tidings too | the riches and delights of God! The guilty happy to be believed, and was enough to conscience can never think itself safe : so endanger that life with excess of joy, which many years' experience of Joseph's love
could not secure his brethren of remission. I bours to depress. Not seldom the same Those that know they have deserved ill, man changes copies: but if favours outlive are wont to misinterpret favours, and think one age, they prove decrepit and heartless. they cannot be beloved. All that while, It is a rare thing to find posterity heirs of his goodness seemed but concealed and their father's love. How should men's fa. sleeping malice, which they feared in their vour be but like themselves, variable and father's last sleep would awake, and bewray inconstant ? There is no certainty but in itself in revenge: still, therefore, they plead the favour of God, in whom can be no the name of their father, though dead, not change, whose love is entailed upon a thou. daring to use their own. Good meanings sand generations. cannot be more wronged than with sus- Yet if the Israelites had been treacherous picion. It grieves Joseph to see their fear, to Pharaoh, if disobedient, this great change and to find they had not forgotten their own of countenance had been just: now the only sin, and to hear them so passionately crave offence of Israel is, that he prospereth. that which they had.
That which should be the motive of their " Forgive the trespass of the servants of gratulation and friendship, is the cause of thy father's God.” What a conjuration of their malice. There is no more hateful pardon was this! What wound could be sight to a wicked man, than the prosperity either so deep, or so festered, as this plaster of the conscionable. None but the Spirit could not cure! They say not, the sons of of that true harbinger of Christ, can teach thy father, for they knew Jacob was dead, us to say with contentment, “ He must inand they had degenerated; but the servantscrease, but I must decrease.” of thy father's God. How much stronger And what if Israel be mighty and rich ? are the bonds of religion than of nature ! “ If there be war, they may join with our If Joseph had been rancorous, this depre- enemies, and get them out of the land." cation had charmed him ; but now it dis- - Behold, they are afraid to part with solves him into tears: they are not so ready those whom they are grieved to entertain : to acknowledge their old offence, as he to either staying or going is offence enough to protest his love ; and if he chide them for those that seek quarrels : there were no any thing, it is for that they thought they wars, and yet they say, If there be wars. needed to entreat ; since they might know The Israelites had never given cause of it could not stand with the fellow-servant | fear to revolt, and yet they say, “ Lest of their father's God to harbour malicious- they join to our enemies," to those enemies ness, to purpose revenge. “ Am not I under which we may have: so they make their God?" And fully to secure them, he turns certain friends slaves, for fear of uncertain their eyes from themselves to the decree of enemies. Wickedness is ever cowardly, God, from the action to the event; as one and full of unjust suspicions: it makes a that would have them think there was no man fear, where no fear is; fly, when none cause to repent of that which proved so pursues him. What difference there is besuccessful.
twixt David and Pharaoh! The faith of Even late confession finds forgiveness. the one says, “ I will not be afraid for ten Joseph had long ago seen their sorrow; thousand that should beset me:" the fear never but now heard he their humble ac- of the other says, “ Lest if there be war, knowledgment. Mercy stays not for out. they join with our enemies ;" therefore ward solemnities. How much more shall should he have made much of the Israelites, that infinite goodness pardon our sins, when that they might be his : his favour might he finds the truth of our repentance! | have made them firm. Why might they
not as well draw their swords for him?
Weak and base minds ever incline to the BOOK IV.
worse, and seek safety rather in an impos
sibility of hurt, than in the likelihood of just CONTEMPLATION 1. --OF THE AFFLICTION OF | advantage. Favours had been more bind. ISRAEL.
ing than cruelties: yet the foolish Egyptian
had rather have impotent servants, than EGYPT was long an harbour to the Israel- | able friends. For their welfare alone Phaites; now it proves a jail: the posterity of raoh owes Israel a mischief; and how will Jacob finds too late, what it was for their he pay it ? forefathers to sell Joseph a slave into Egypt. « Come let us work wisely." Lewd men Those whom the Egyptians honoured be-call wicked policies wisdom, and their suc. fore as lords, now they contemn as drudges.cess happiness. Herein Satan is wiser than One Pharaoh advances, whom another la- they, who both lays the plot, and makes