Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

tion? It was because, in a pre-eminent sense, "his arms were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob." The human nature had an infinite load to bear, but the Divine was indissolubly united to it. Jehovah the Father smote, but Jehovah the Son was smitten. Supported by his own Deity the Man stands under the stroke of omnipotence, and endures it in the greatness of his strength.

Joseph may, however, be regarded not only as a Type of Jesus himself, but as a Type of the Christian Church, which has often, like its Divine founder, been shot at by human malice and fiendish wrath. Many weapons have been formed against it, but they have not prospered. Although it is now more than eighteen hundred years since Jesus yielded up the ghost, his name is still in the world as ointment poured forth; and, although all conceivable methods have been employed to destroy it, the word of God grows and multiplies. The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner, and sooner shall earth and heaven pass away than a seed cease to serve him in the earth. The Church of Christ, as Leighton observes, "has often been brought to so obscure a pass, that if you can follow her in history it is only by the track of her blood, and if you can see her, it is only by the light of those fires in which her martyrs have been burned." But although the kings of the earth have often taken counsel together, and the people have imagined a vain thing, the purpose of the Lord has not been reversed. The religion of Jesus being of God, it cannot be overthrown. So long as men need salvation shall the name of Jesus be trusted in; one generation after another shall proclaim his

t acts, and sing aloud of his righteousness. Race unto race shall tell, as race unto race has told, that there is none other name given under heaven among men whereby we can be saved. Empires shall rise and fall as they have done in ages past, but the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be held and proved to be that which alone can make nations prosperous or individuals happy. We, with our children and children's children, shall go the way of all the earth, but the blood that was shed on Calvary shall never cease to be remembered. Posterity to latest time shall assemble themselves to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of Him. Awakened consciences shall be soothed, and dying beds comforted with the doctrine of his atoning sacrifice; infants shall be held up to him in baptism, mourners shall bless his memory, old men shall declare his faithfulness, and a seed shall never cease to serve him. Often as the penitent remembers his sins he shall be gladdened with the tidings of Christ's salvation; often as the needy soul hungers and thirsts after righteousness, shall it be directed unto Him for the bread and the water of life. The gates of hell shall not prevail against his church. There shall ever be ministers at her altars, and communicants at her solemn feasts. Changes which it has not entered into the heart of man to conceive of shall take place in the world, but none of them can render men independent of his salvation. Sinners shall still stand in need of a Saviour, mourners of a comforter, and dying men of immortality. The world at large shall undergo unthought of revolutions, but his gospel shall survive them all. Ancient thrones may be subverted and new dynasties succeed, the glory of old kingdoms may depart and new ones arise in their stead, the tide of innovation may sweep away all the ancient landmarks which our fathers have set, but even on the uttermost bounds of the everlasting hills shall the standard of the cross be planted. "His name shall endure for ever. It shall be continued as long as the sun. Men shall be blessed in Him, and all nations shall call him blessed."

[graphic]

CHAPTER TWENTY-SECOND.

DEATH OF JOSEPH.

The character of Joseph comes, on the whole, perhaps as near perfection as ever any mere man in this life was able to arrive at. In every condition of life his piety and virtue appear to admirable advantage. As a young man in his father's house, as a slave in Egypt, in prison and in the palace alike, his works praised him highly. His trials were of a different complexion from those of his progenitors; but they were nobly borne, and advantageously improved. He is distinguished from many other eminent saints by theharmonious combination of many diversified excellences. Take almost any other illustrious character, and you will be sure to see in it some one particular point of goodness very prominently developed—so much so, indeed, as to contrast sometimes in a striking manner with imperfections and infirmities. Thus Abraham is remarkable for his faith, Moses for his meekness of spirit, Job for his patience, David for devotional feeling, and St Paul for persevering and ardent zeal. Not, indeed, that they were wanting in many other graces of the spirit, but that each of them is specially distinguished above his fellows by the liveliness of that one characteristic. But it were hard after all to determine positively for what particular exercise of virtue Joseph is most illustrious; for there is scarcely oneexcellence that can be named, the features of which may not be visibly traced in him. Is it piety to God? You may observe its operation from his boyhood even until death. Is it integrity? His conduct in Potiphar's house, as well as in Pharaoh's palace, proves him to have had a conscience void of offence. Is it chastity? So long as the world lasts shall his behaviour be appealed to as the brightest illustration of a young man keeping himself unspotted from the world. Is it forgiveness of wrongs? His noble superiority to vindictive feeling is the best merely human testimony ever borne to the dignity of self-control and the amiableness of mercy. Is it tenderness of heart? Let the tears which he shed in secret, as well as those which he wept over the necks of his brethren, tell that scarcely ever since the world began was there about any ordinary descendant of Adam so fine a union of grace and greatness, of dignity and tenderness. Is it filial affection? Let his care of Jacob alive, and his regard for his memory when dead, be taken as the answer. Is it wisdom as a statesman, equity as a governor, or zeal for the welfare of a great nation with whose interests he was intrusted? The high favour in which he stood with Pharaoh, and the popularity of his administration in Egypt, alike show that his public as well as his private virtue was beyond the reach of suspicion. In short, both as a man and as a Governor, his excellencies appear to have been of the highest order, nor is it easy to say for what particular virtue more than another he is entitled to our admiration. It is this which, perhaps, as much as anything else qualifies him for being regarded as the most appropriate type of our blessed Lord. The more that his character it

« EdellinenJatka »