Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

partiality which Jacob bore to him, they were old enough to make proper allowance for it. They ought to have considered that there were peculiar circumstances connected with the history of this now motherless lad sufficient to awake their most generous sympathy. As it was, they should have laboured rather to cultivate the dispositions which had so endeared Joseph to his aged father, and have tried to secure his affection by a course of upright and pious conduct. But no; Joseph is more loved than they, and envy drinks up their blood. He informs his father of their evil deeds, and they hate him with a bitter hatred.

Need I ask any of my readers—What think ye of these young men? Their own moral feelings must be vitiated indeed if they have not already answered this question. But let it not be thought that the case before us is a rare one. Change but a few of the circumstances, and you may see it acted over again even at this day. How often does it happen that the prosperity of one individual is a source of unhappiness to many! Because they are not equally successful, they depreciate his worth, bear a grudge to his person, and complain even of those arrangements of Providence which have contributed to his promotion. They stop not to consider that his talent or piety may be greater than theirs. They allow not themselves to inquire whether there may not be something about their own tempers or characters which keeps them back from honour. Nor have they patience to weigh in an even balance all the circumstances of the case. And so their hearts become the seats of every malignant passion; and if they go not the full length of Joseph's brethren in carrying out their envious feelings into

action, it is because necessity restrains them. They want only the opportunity, not the will, to work as extensive mischief.

It were, indeed, long to tell the evils which envy has occasioned in the world. It was envy that took Satan into Paradise, and prompted the cunning solicitation by which he prevailed on our common parents to break covenant with God. He looked upon their felicity, and it was torturing to his malignant nature. By the working of this passion, human blood was for the first time shed in our apostate world. Cain saw that the sacrifice of Abel was more acceptable than his own offering; and, taking ill the preference, he lifted the murderous arm against his righteous brother. Through envy it was that the Egyptians so cruelly oppressed the strangers in their land, increased their burdens, and cast their little ones into the devouring water. Through envy it was that Korah and his companions wrought such deadly mischief in the camp of Israel. It was envy that heated the furnace for the three children in Babylon—envy, that cast Daniel, the devout saint and upright statesman, into the lion's den —envy, that led to the unjust condemnation and ignominious death of the Holy Child Jesus—envy, that moved the Jews to rage against the Apostles who attested his resurrection—envy, in one word, that still impels the adversary of God and man to ply his insidious and multiform temptations in the earth.

Most important, then, it is that we should watch against the first stirrings of this evil passion, and that we should ponder well the golden maxim of Israel's king—" Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." And, for this purpose, let us cultivate the charity which St Paul has so beautifully described in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, the " charity which envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not easily puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, and rejoiceth not in inquity." Envy not any man for aught that he possesses; for whatever good he has is the gift of God: envy not the prosperity of the wicked; for soon, very soon, shall they be brought low—their honours shall fade as a moth: envy not the acquirements of the good ; rather adopt the generous principle of an ancient saint—" Would to God that all the Lord's servants were prophets."

Yet once more. The conduct of Joseph's brethren is acted over again by those who hate the monitors that would dissuade them from evil. Some men there are who cannot bear to have their besetting faults alluded to; it pains them to the quick when the most delicate reference is made to their characteristic sins. To the preacher who deals faithfully with their consciences they say, as Ahab did to the prophet Elijah, "Hast thou found me, oh ! mine enemy." They desire to hear smooth things, and to be flattered with visions of peace. The remonstrances of their own consciences, too, they dismiss as impertinent intrusions; and because God's word contains heavy threatenings against iniquity, they deny its inspiration, or qualify and explain away its statements. They consider not that the quiet which they love, is the quiet of death, and that the tender mercies which they affect are very cruel. May such be admonished in time to think whether it be not better to endure the agony of a wounded spirit now than to suffer it eternally! May they consider, in the time of their visitation, that God's Spirit will not always strive with man!

4. Behold in the early affliction of Joseph a type of Jesus, the Man of Sorrows.—" He came unto his own, and his own received him not." He was the Beloved Son of his Father, and even in childhood many distinctions were conferred on him. The grace of God was upon him, and, when but twelve years old, his questions and answers astonished all that heard him in the temple. But the malice of his brethren was soon manifested against him. The archers sorely grieved him—they shot at him, and hated him. His warnings were despised, and his counsels set at naught. "His brethren hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.'' Let not, then, any afflicted or persecuted child of God deem it strange that he is ridiculed by some and reviled by others; rather let him expect such treatment; and let him derive encouragement to persevere under it from the saying of his Divine Master —" Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness sake."

CHAPTER SECOND.

A DREAM AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.

- As the sun

Ere it is risen, sometimes paints its image
In the atmosphere; so sometimes do the spirits
Of great events stride on before the events,
And in to-day already walks to-morrow."

In the last chapter we have had a view of the early character of Joseph, of the peculiar affection entertained towards him by his father, and of the consequent hatred and envy of his brethren.

It had, however, been determined by Almighty God himself, that this persecuted youth should, in after years, be promoted to great honour, and be the instrument of saving many souls alive. And so, even when he suffered wrongfully under the dislike of his own brethren, he received from heaven premonitions of future elevation. These, we cannot doubt, kept him from sinking under the burden of their reproach and mockery. What although the shafts of their ridicule were armed against him, when he felt himself shielded by Omnipotence! And what, though in the brightness of noon-day he had to bear their scorn, when in the deep silence of midnight sweet visions were given to him from God, and the secret of the

« EdellinenJatka »