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their master's table,” her daughter is made whole, and she herself commended. So is it still. Not always is prayer immediately answered. There is sometimes not a little to vex and darken the penitent soul. But let no man, therefore, despair. Let no man even doubt or refrain from supplication. Rather let him reiterate his wants with greater fervency than before, and ere long he shall behold God as the rock of his strength and the health of his countenance. The cloud which had once seemed to be charged with thunder sball fall upon him in showers of mercy, and he will gratefully own that it is good for a man to hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
The worst, however, is not yet passed with them. They are not only accused of being spies, but are dealt with as such. Notwithstanding their repeated protestations, Joseph insists upon his point, and demands that their youngest brother, of whom they had spoken, be brought down in testimony of their innocence. They are all, in the meantime, put in ward together; and on the third day thereafter he proposes to them a plan by which they should make good their profession. “ If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison ; go ye carry corn for the famine of your houses ; but bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die.” To these terms they readily conceded, encouraged, no doubt, by the assurance which the governor of the land made unto them in the words—I FEAR GOD. Yet, after all, was there not a terrible reproof to them contained in these words ? Had they feared God, Joseph could not have suffered what he did at their hand. Had they feared God, they would have spared him much misery, and their common father great anguish of heart. Not so in former years would they have derided him for his dreams; not so would they have conspired together to slay him; not so would they have stripped him of his garment and sat down to eat bread while he was ready to die with hunger; not so would they have invented a falsehood to their father, and with hypocritical sympathy pretended to comfort him. No words could be more heavy with rebuke to them than these, had they considered them aright. They ought at once to have taken shame to themselves from the announcement, and considered how shocking was the contrast which their own conduct presented to this. And so, likewise, should it be with every man who witnesses in his neighbour a conscientious regard to those rules of moral obligation which he may himself have been in the habit of violating. Ungodly sinner, did you ever observe a little child upon its knees, lisping the prayer which affection had taught it to utter? irreligious parent, did you ever hear the voice of psalms rise from a neighbour's dwelling ? sabbathbreaker, did you notice, at any time, the multitude moving devoutly to the sanctuary of God ? then might you have reasonably read, in the doings of such, a pointed condemnation of your own impiety. Their conduct was a solemn testimony against yours; and a day is hastening on when you shall indeed painfully feel it to have been such. May the thought of it now induce seriousness ! May the consideration move you, in time, to fear God!
A PENITENT REFLECTION.
“ If man sleeps on, untaught by what he sees,
Can he prove infidel to what he feels ?"
The experiment which Joseph tried upon his brethren was not unsuccessful. The temporary adversity under which they were unexpectedly pressed was the means of awakening within their bosoms convictions that had long been dormant. As we read :
“ They said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this evil come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child ? and ye would not hear; therefore, behold, also his blood is required." -Genesis xlii. 21.
“ Human nature is the same in all ages." The brethren of Joseph were now consience-striken for a sin which appears to have cost them no uneasiness for twenty years ; just as bad men, in these times, are often roused to a sense of misdeeds long since committeed, by the occurrence of some sudden or unexpected calamity. The very men who had remorselessly perpetrated an unnatural crime against their unoffending brother ; who had heard his heart-piercing cries without emotion ; who had overcome every
cries'ending brothel an unnaton
tender and melting remonstrance; who had, without so much as a sigh of contrition, given him over to the tender mercy of the stranger ; who had endured to hear, unmoved, the bitter lamentation of a venerable parent for the heavy loss which they had caused him to incur—these very men, who, one should think, were well nigh dead to every compunctious feeling, are at length powerfully wrought upon, in an unlooked for hour, and in a strange land, with conviction of sin. They are carried back, through a long course of events, to the very moment of time when they conceived the horrid idea of shedding innocent blood. They imagine that they see Joseph in all his affliction before them; that they hear the beseeching tones of his voice; that they behold the countenance yet more eloquent than words which implored them to show mercy, but in vain. That black deed, committed by them twenty years ago, is now fresh in their memories as a thing of yesterday; and it now seems that, because of it, this evil is come upon them.
1. From this portion of the sacred narrative we are taught, first of all, the mighty power of conscience. Its legitimate authority may, for a long time, be set at nought; its native alarms may be hushed by a variety of expedients; by the repeated appliances of worldly considerations its edge may be entirely worn off; but there still exists within it a capacity of being excited, and sooner or later its powers must be asserted. You may as well think to remove the sun out of the firmament as to overthrow for ever the supremacy of conscience. True, indeed, you may so manage matters as to question for a while its very existence as an original principle of our nature, just
as the maniac may imagine that he possesses within himself the power to turn into darkness the orb of day. In the exercise of this wild fancy he may command the light of nature to be quenched, and, shutting himself up in a darksome cell, he may flatter himself into the notion that his mandate has been obeyed; but let reason assert its power, and he will own his folly ; when brought forth to the presence of day, he will wonder at the mad delusion which possessed him, and be once more convinced that not by human might or power can the laws of nature be reversed. The sinner, too, who has for years laboured under a similar hallucination, may even go so far as to raise the laugh of profane mockery against the doctrine of human accountability ; but let destruction overtake him like a whirlwind ; let the reason that is in him once more have fair play, and by his fears, his remembrances, and his expectations, even he will give awful testimony to the truth which he derided.
“ Conscience alone will do the work of hell.”
A remarkable instance of this sort we have in Herod, who, upon hearing of Christ's miracles, said " This is John the Baptist whom I beheaded; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.” Than this fancy of his nothing could be wilder or more unlikely; yet one consideration there was which had originally suggested it, and at length shut out almost all arguments to the contrary. Conscience was roused, and the fears of guilt were awakened. With a view to please an adulterous woman, he had lately put to death that righteous per