« EdellinenJatka »
me the brother against whom you long ago so awfully sinned. Behold in me the living historian of your black and complicated crimes !"
These and many similar ideas were those few words, “I am Joseph," eminently fitted to suggest. And doubtless his brethren were in that trying hour painfully alive to them.
Another overwhelming consideration would be that the discovery of their guilt was now complete. Hitherto the secret had been locked up in their own bosoms; but now there was no possibility of concealing it any longer. And what a disgraceful history it was! Their father, too, from whom they had so long hidden it, would come to the knowledge of it at last; and what could they say for themselves ? In Egypt and in Canaan alike, they would be objects of aversion. Their names would go down to posterity with odium, and wherever Joseph was spoken of with approbation, they would be denouneed and scorned. Yet would the words “ I am Joseph" also awaken some hope within them. He had been always gentle, and he was still known in the land over which he presided as a person of moderation. Had his designs towards them been unfriendly, would he not have carried his first rough treatment of them more fully out? Having got them the second time into his power, would he not have exercised unmingled resentment? Above all, would he now have sent every one else away and wept so affectingly before them? There was at least something about the words themselves, and the person who spoke them, that might serve as a ray of hope to lighten up the tempest of darker emotions. And they would be the more assured
when at length he said, “ Come near to me, I pray
Altogether, it was a most tender interview ; and they must be slow of heart indeed who cannot feel its pathos. Perhaps, however, there is a time coming when something similar to it shall be experienced by us all. Only suppose that through faith and repentance we are at length prepared for admission by death into the assembly of the just, and that those have gone thither before us who, although not so treated by us as Joseph was by his brethren, were yet less esteemed by us than they deserved to be. A far greater change, doubtless, has taken place on them than was wrought on Joseph during his lengthened separation from a father's house; and it is possible, at least, that when we are translated into the world of spirits, we shall wonder who those are whom once we knew most intimately. The brightness of the robes with which they are invested, and the glorious model after which their substances are fashioned, may be such as to forbid the thought that these are they who once had their foundation in the dust, and wore the garments of corruption. They may speak to us, and we not for a while imagine that theirs were once familiar voices. It may be that to the new visitant there may be much to awaken astonishment, while there is little to revive remembrance. It may be, too, that just as much of tender emotion as consists with the perfect happiness which is there enjoyed, may be felt by the kindred spirit when addressed in terms such as these :-“I am the father or the brother, the husband or the wife, the son or the daughter, whose memory thou didst at one time promise to hold for ever sacred. Hast thou for
gotten me thus soon, or is there nothing in this my countenance and form that should remind thee of the aspect which then I wore ?" Yes, it is conceivable that revelations of this sort may give rise for an instant to such tender sorrow as is not consistent with heavenly joy, and that, with the ineffable happiness of recognition, there may be blended some soft regrets that the dead, whom we held so dear, were, sooner than was meet, forgotten by us. And we may conceive, too, if the sympathies which obtain in heaven have any analogy to those that hold on earth, how eagerly we shall compare the reality before us with the bygone remembrance, and how we shall please ourselves to recognise in the superinduced change the beautiful and indelible marks of underlaid identity.
We may conceive, too, with what horror the impenitent and unbelieving shall hear fall upon their ears the awful sentence, “I am Jesus”-as if it were to say, I am He, whose name and character you despised, whose grace you scorned, whose blood you trampled on, and whom you daily crucified afresh. With what face shall they look upon their redeemed and happy kindred, who set at nought all the solemn counsels which they gave them, wounded their best feelings, and hastened their departure hence ? How, on that day when no man can redeem his brother, shall the libertine look on the once happy maid whom he seduced from purity, and with what heart hear from her the intimation, Thou didst help to ruin my soul.
It were easy to multiply conjectures on a field so copious as this. But we forbear, lest we should seem to pronounce as certain what we only speak of as possible. It may be that such analogies are altogether
fanciful, or it may be that they are even capable of being more widely stretched. Assuredly, “there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy.” We dismiss them, therefore, as peradventures ; for we know that it is neither safe nor proper to seek to be wise above that which is written. Yet believing, as we hold ourselves entitled to do, that there shall be a mutual recognition of saints in bliss, we may be allowed to doubt whether that recognition shall be immediate, and whether it does not better consist with all that we know of humanity to suppose that a series of conversations may take place; that questions may be asked and answers given; that experiments may be made to awaken in the newlyarrived spirit bygone reminiscences, ere the discovery shall be made in all its fullness that it is talking face to face with its own familiar friend. The surprise in that case may be conceived to add to the joy. And, perhaps, too, the fresh intelligence which the new visitant can give of the world which it has left, and of the welfare of common friends, may occasion enlargement of gladness to those who were happy before. Should such, indeed, be the case, with what interest will the already redeemed hear of their survivors' worth
- with what angelic delight receive assurance that those for whom, while yet with them, they prayed affectionately, still walk in the footsteps of the flock, and keep themselves unspotted from the world! That countenance so celestially bright-that hand striking now a golden harp in concert with unfallen angels can they, indeed, be those of the infant over whose grave Rachel sat often weeping in bitterness of soul ? Can it be that yonder is the once feeble and tottering
frame of the venerable old man, now excelling in strength and crowned with immortality. The glance of celestial affection must be quick indeed ; and they who have long stood before the throne of God and the Lamb may well be supposed capable of making easier discoveries than those who have only left the region of imperfection and sin.
The piety of Joseph, again, appears to singular advantage at this point of the history. He calls the attention of his brethren to the fact that the hand of Providence had brought all this about. Not that they were free of guilt in the matter : but that He who makes the wrath of man to praise him had turned their evil intentions to a happy issue, both as concerned Joseph himself, his father's house, the land of Egypt, and the world at large. It is thus, too, that the mind which has become wise unto salvation is led to admire the wisdom and goodness of God in bringing so many incalculable benefits to the human race from the greatest of all conceivable sins-the murder of the holy child Jesus. The son of man went as it had been written concerning him; and better far it had been for the traitor that he had never been born.
Yet from this unparalleled iniquity has God caused mercy and peace to flow to myriads. The evil of the sin is not the less apparent, because of the wonderful manner in which the designs of it were overruled. It is for us, then, often as we contemplate the death of Jesus, to adore the wisdom of that God who permitted the rulers to take counsel together, and the people to imagine a vain thing, in order that he might take the wise in their own craftiness, and establish a covenant of mercy with many nations.