« EdellinenJatka »
Joseph having made himself known to his brethren interchanges with them tokens of reconciliation. “ He kissed his brethren, and wept upon them ; after that his brethren talked with him." Their hearts were encouraged and their fears put to flight. With Pharaoh's concurrence, he invites them and their little ones from Canaan to Egypt; he charges them with a message to the parent who had mourned for him so long; gives them provision for the journey, and dismisses them with the important caution—“See that ye fall not out by the way.”
It is thus that our Elder Brother deals with those who are reconciled by his blood. The fears of natural conscience are removed, they are admitted into communion with him, he makes provision for their necessities, chooses out the lot of their inheritance, and commands them, as his friends and brethren, to live peaceably as heirs together of the grace of life.
UNEXPECTED NEWS. JACOB IS TOLD THAT JOSEPH
IS YET ALIVE AND GOVERNOR OF EGYPT,
Glad tidings are sometimes as overpowering as those of an opposite description. How often has it happened that the sudden re-appearance of one whom for years they had given up as lost has thrown an affectionate family into a flood of emotion, from which it required both time and consideration to deliver them. Surprise has always about it a certain “ touch of unbelief;" and just as we can scarce bring ourselves to believe that a person whom we knew very intimately, and whom we saw in the full enjoyment of health a few hours before, is actually dead, so we have like difficulty in crediting either our own senses or the testimony of others in regard to the living welfare of those whom for years we have lamented as gone. Those can well enough understand what we mean who have had friends either at sea or in foreign lands, from whom, for many a recurring season, no communication arrived, and in regard to whom all inquiries were unsuccessful.
They can tell what it is to endure the torments of suspense, and the agitations of uncertainty ; how, as every successive month passed by, expectation
became more languid, and there remained only enough of
and how, at length, even this gave way, and the mind sank into the sad conclusion, that the worst which it had at first apprehended must, beyond all doubt, have taken place. They, too, can say with what a strange mixture of gladness and incredulity they received, in an unlooked for hour, a letter from the very friend they had so long deplored ; with what anxiety, bordering on suspicion, they examined the handwriting ; and how hard they were, even after perusing its contents, to be persuaded that the thing was not altogether a dream! It is for them, then, and such as them, to understand how the tidings of Joseph's welfare affected the father, who had now, for more than thirty years, lamented him as one departed from the earth, Could it be that Joseph was indeed alive? Had not all the versimilitudes of the case been such as to produce in his mind a firm and reasonable belief that he had been devoured by some evil beast in the wildere ness ? Besides, if Joseph had indeed been alive, would he not have taken care at the earliest opportunity to remove an affectionate father's apprehensions ? Was it at all likely that he would have let so much time elapse without acquainting him of his life and fortunes ? Surely he would not have let one so deeply and tenderly interested in him go down mourning to the grave ?
We wonder not, therefore, to read that Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not. Another very affecting instance of this sort we find recorded in the Gospel of St Luke. There we are told that, when Jesus after his resurrection stood in the midst of his disciples, conversed with them, and showed them “his wounds, they yet believed not for joy.” The thing was indisputable ; all the evidence that could possibly be wished for was given ; and yet there was a something within them which tempted them to distrust the fact. Deeming it, as we say, too good news to be true, they believed not for joy. The working of the same feeling may be discerned in the following passage :
" And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.”-Acts xii. 13, &c.
We may hence take occasion to remark generally, that, according as faith is strong or weak, the heart of a person is supported or sinks under any bright discovery of God's truth. What, after all, were the news of Joseph's existence, compared with the high announcements made to us in the gospel of Christ ? It was wonderful indeed that Israel's long-lost son should have been actually alive, and that he was Governor over all the land of Egypt; but the realities of the heavenly world are infinitely more astonishing. Let one but read the account which St Paul gives to the Corinthians of his rapture into the third heavens, where he beheld things which it was not lawful for a man to utter, and then say whether it be not true that a strong exercise of faith is necessary ere the hope can be entertained that we, if sanctified by the grace of the gospel, shall be made partakers of so glorious a felicity. David tells us that he would have fainted if he had not believed ; and it consists with the experience of every saint, that in direct proportion to the strength of this grace is his ability either to act or to suffer. When is it that poverty is most meekly endured, that sickness is most patiently borne, or that bereavement is most submissively acquiesced in ? Is it not when the sufferer's belief in the power and providence of God is such as to enable him to look beyond that which is immediate and visible to that which is remote and unseen ? What but a persuasion that there is a better world on the other side of this can keep the dying man's heart from sinking, or the mourner's feet from falling ? Had Jacob but considered that with God all things are possible, he would not then have fainted at the good news which his children brought to him from Egypt. It is the province of faith to believe, upon the force of divine testimony, what to flesh and blood would seem incredible. Let a man but possess this in lively exercise, not only will he be kept from fainting, but made to hope even against hope. Had Christ's disciples believed the words which he spake unto them, they would not have been alarmed when they beheld him after his resurrection from the dead; and did men in these times but believe firmly that, to those who are redeemed by his blood, death is but a passage to glory, they would not be unduly disquieted under the visitations of his hand.