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Most High was with him! These things might well suffice to make him bear patiently the hardships of his condition, and encourage him in the ways of piety.
That the great Spirit who made and governs the universe has free access to the minds of men, both in their wakeful and sleeping hours, will be denied by no one who admits the first principles of religion. The world of matter and the world of mind are alike under his control, and the established laws of either he can alter or suspend at pleasure. Accordingly, we find that, as at sundry times, so in divers manners, he has spoken unto the children of men. Sometimes he has aroused their attention by an audible voice from Heaven, as was the case on Mount Sinai, when he delivered laws to the trembling Israelites. Sometimes he has spoken to them, as to Job, out of the whirlwind; and sometimes, as to Saul journeying towards Damascus, he has flashed conviction on their understandings by a light brighter than the sun. Sometimes, as to Ezekiel, Isaiah, and John, he has manifested himself in vision ; and sometimes, as to Joseph, Solomon, and Daniel, he has imparted wisdom in dreams. Causing a deep slumber to fall upon the frame, he has opened the mind to discipline, and given songs in the night. The bodily senses being locked up in the chains of a divinely-commissioned sleep, he has brought near to their spirits the mysteries of futurity, and privileged them to look through the veil of flesh to objects that lie beyond the reach of fancy or conjecture. The book of his secret decrees, which no man or angel can presume to break open, he has brought within the sphere of their quickened intellect, and has permitted them to read a portion of its contents. It has, indeed, been well said, even by a heathen, “ The reflections of the night are deepest." Nor is it less worthy of remark, as an ancient father has observed, that, while David, in the nineteenth Psalm, attributes speech to the day, be ascribes wisdom to the silent night. Often in the profound calm of nature has a still small voice been heard, and through the obscure gloom of sense light has visited the soul.
The dreams of Joseph were, like those of Abraham and Solomon, from God. To show that he can impart knowledge to the soul, which he has formed, in ways apparently the most improbable, he reveals his counsels in the dark, and makes known his mind by signs and strange wonders. Joseph is hated by his brethren ; but, in an hour when he had least expected it, a prophetic dream of glory is imparted to him. The sheaf of corn which stands erect while the others fall becomes emblematic of the pre-eminence which awaits him; and the luminaries of nature which seem to render him obeisance are significant of the prostration which his kindred must yet make in his presence.
The announcement of these things, however, does but aggravate their hatred and feed their envy. 66 They hated him," it is said, “ yet the more for his dreams and for his words.” Ill as they had already taken it that he was more esteemed by their father than they, they were now more indignant at the thought of his being promoted to yet greater honour. With scorn they asked, Shalt thou indeed reign over us ? Shortly after these things, they go to feed their father's flocks in Shechem; and Israel, anxious for their welfare, sends Joseph to inquire after them. As we read:
*6 Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem ? come and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I. And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field; and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou ? And he said, I seek my brethren ; tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks,” &c.--Genesis xxxvii. 13–20.
Joseph must doubtless have known enough of his brethren's nature to be aware that this was a hazardous errand. He had already been no stranger to their insult and malice; their previous enmity, too, he could not but know was now considerably increased by late occurrences ; and, therefore, to face them in that solitary region was, he might be sure, only to expose himself afresh to their vindictive rage. Nevertheless, a principle of obedience to his father's will subdued every other consideration. It was enough for him that, painful and perilous as was the office, his beloved parent had assigned it to him enough for him that, though his brethren might scoff at his pretensions, calumniate his worth, and abuse his person, he had a message from home to address to them. Let the consequences be what they might, his duty was clear, and filial love constrained him to accomplish it. He said unto his father—“Here am I.”
From this portion of the narrative let young persons be taught the important duty of obedience to parents. From this no considerations drawn from personal comfort or safety can absolve you. So long as those whom God has appointed to be your guardians enjoin nothing that is interdicted in his blessed word, you are bound to give a cheerful and submissive acquiescence. No matter how ungracious to your own liking may be the errand on which you are called to go-no matter how many difficulties or obstructions you may see in the way-10 matter that a strong disinclination may exist in your bosoms to the service, and that you have reason to anticipate extreme danger in the discharge of it-it is enough that their authority over you is given them of God, and that He has said, “ Honour thy father and thy mother." This being the case, it is yours not to refuse, or even hesitate. Should they, indeed, so far abuse their power as to lay upon you a sinful command, it would be right that you should bear the utmost weight of their displeasure rather than perform it; for the authority of God is greater than that of man, and all other claims are subordinate to His. But should the requirements which they impose, however stern or unpleasing to you they may seem, be such as God's word does not oppose, you are bound, alike in duty to them and to God him, self, to give heed unto the charge.
But what is particularly to be remarked in this portion of the narrative is, that the obedience of Joseph was singularly typical of that which Christ rendered to his Heavenly Father. From what work assigned to him, however dangerous, did He shrink ? On what errand of mercy did He refuse to go ? At his Father's bidding, he came into a world in which all evil passions were arrayed against him, the authority of Heaven was trampled under foot, and the counsel of the Eternal set at nought. Forgetful of God and
ungrateful for his goodness, men followed the devices of their own hearts, and sought only their own pleasures. Yet, full of pity and tender compassion, God sends unto them his beloved Son, born of a woman and made under the law. Obedient to his Father's voice, he undertakes a journey, not like that of Joseph from the enchanting vale of Hebron to the pastoral solitudes of Shechem, but a journey from the highest heavens to this our far-off world ; leaves the glory with which from eternity he had been encircled to tabernacle in human flesh; and consents to undergo all conceivable (or rather we should say inconceivable) hardships, so his Father's pleasure may be fulfilled. Not that he was indistinctly prescient of the destiny that was before him not that he underrated the inconveniences or tormenting cruelties that he must needs bear;-no, all these he was fully prepared to undergo, for to his all-seeing eye every contingency was open; but it was enough that thus it had been written in the volume of the Book concerning him. And, therefore, when no adequate messenger could be found, he submissively said—“ Here am I; send me." Before taking one step in the wondrous journey of humiliation, he knew with divine certainty every incident that should befal him on the way. Yet did none of these things move him from his purpose ; at the time fixed in the Divine counsels, he appeared as the messenger of the Highest. Knowing well “ what was in man," he declared faithfully and fearlessly the whole truth of God. Although he well knew beforehand that his doctrine would be offensive to many, he kept nothing back which he had been commissioned to announce. Already had the Jews sought to stone