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The history of Joseph is on many aecounts highly instructive. It is an admirable commentary on the doctrine of a special Providence. It is a fine illustration of excellence flourishing in circumstances the most unfavourable to its display. It is, also, in various respects, typical of events in the history both of Christ himself and of the Christian Church. The most eminent divines, at least, have considered it in this light. Whether, therefore, for the edification of our faith or for the regulation of our practice, it may well be esteemed eminently profitable. So well persuaded of its importance and utility was the learned and pious Bishop Hall, that he remarked, “ If an angel from heaven were to say he could sufficiently comment upon it, I would distrust him ; for here it is easy to say more, and impossible to say
enough.” The following papers are given to the world in the hope that, with the Divine blessing, some of those many lessons suggested by that interesting narrative may be brought home to the heart and conscience of the reader.
JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN.
THE FAVOURITE CHILD.
It may at first, perhaps, be thought that we possess but scanty materials for making a due estimate of Joseph's character when he was yet a young man in his father's house. But, although little has been expressly stated respecting it, that little is full of import, and may well justify the persuasion that his youth was distinguished by sound religious principle. We are to remember that Jacob himself was the grandson of Abraham, the Father of the Faithful; that, piously disposed as he was, there is the strongest reason for believing that he would take occasion to instruct his household in regard to the truths of religion; and that, as Joseph especially was much with him, he would embrace every opportunity of instilling into his opening mind the doctrines of heavenly wisdom. His own life and history had been such as to satisfy
him that the hand of God was upon him for good; nor can it be doubted that he would communicate to the child whom he so fondly loved that information, in regard both to himself and his ancestors, which was likely, through the Divine blessing, to produce in his tender mind a lively admiration of the ways of Providence.
“ Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren ; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives ; and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age : and he made him a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him." Genesis xxxvii. 1-4.
1. He brought unto his father their evil report.These words are not, we think, to be understood as in anywise reflecting unfavourably upon the character of Joseph ; they do not necessarily mean that he acted as a tale-bearer, or that he malignantly did anything to estrange the affections of Jacob from his other children. That would have argued an evil disposition, and a temper of mind altogether inconsistent with that which so honourably distinguished him in after life. Nothing is more repugnant to the genius of religion than a spirit of censoriousness. It is a transgression of the royal law of love, and is the sure indication of a selfish nature. The Psalmist David, we know, gives it as one of the marks by which a good man is distinguished, that he does not slander with his tongue, nor take up a reproach against his neigh