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bour. But as there is a time to keep silence, there is a time to speak. Although charity suffereth long and is kind, she cannot be always mute; even the regard that she feels for others constrains her to employ all lawful means for their reformation and amendment. Thus, we doubt not, it was with the beloved son of Jacob. Living, as he himself did, in the fear of God, it must have grieved his soul to observe his brethren, who were dear to him, indulging themselves in sinful pleasures. Having been accustomed to ponder the value of his own soul, it would vex him to find that they so lightly esteemed the salvation of theirs; and fearing the consequences to their eternal welfare, he would adopt the measures most likely in his estimation to awaken them to seriousness.
It was, indeed, most sad to think that the instructions of their venerable parent were so soon forgotten by them ; that, when they went out of his presence, they were regardless of his counsels; and that, notwithstanding the many prayers which he had preferred to heaven in their behalf, they yet conducted themselves as those alone right have been expected to do who had never received the benefit of a religious education at all.
What the particular sins may have been of which these young men were guilty, the sacred narrative has not informed us. It is enough they were such as indicated an irreligious state of mind; and it is not, therefore, wonderful that the heart of the pious youth was wounded because of them. Probably, before reporting them to their father, he wept many times in secret, and prayed that the disobedient might be turned to the wisdom of the just. Probably, too, they
mocked at his remonstrances, and treated his wellmeant expostulations, as impertinent and officious. And so, finding at last that they obstinately persisted in a course of sin, “ Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.” This he was bound to do in justice both to his brethren and to Jacob. It was the only conceivable way in which he could hope to cure them of the impieties and immoralities which they practised ; and he was thus doing them a far greater kindness than if he had either countenanced or been silent at their sin. Thoughtless as they were, there was thus, he might think, some likelihood of their being awed by parental authority-when reproved by the good old man for their disregard of his former counsels, the more generous feelings of their nature might revive, and so, with God's blessing, a salutary change be wrought upon their hearts.
Justice to his father, too, demanded this. Had he concealed from hin their misdeeds, he would have been to him as a deceiver. Knowing his truthful disposition, Jacob would put full confidence in him. And was that confidence to be abused ? Would it not have been base to allow an unsuspecting parent to become the dupe of his children's villany? And especially (which is far from being unlikely), if the information were solicited, would it not have been at once impious and unfilial to withhold it? Yea more, it was an act of justice to himself. Had he not done so, he could not have cleared his own conscience--he would have been a partaker of his brethren's sinsand their blood would have been upon his head. As it was, he discharged a painful but sacred duty to his brethren, his father, and himself.
We are hence taught that the obligations of religion are stronger than those of natural affection. Should those even who are most nearly related to us by the ties of blood, live in the indulgence of any known sin, we are not on this account to deem it the less abominable. Should they persuade us to be likeminded with themselves, we may not with impunity hearken to their counsel, nor give heed to their solicitations. There are many, it is to be feared, whose friendly partialities induce them to moderate their disapprobation of such sins as they know to be habitually committed by their own relatives, and who, if they go not the full length of joining them in those sins, yet forbear to manifest that quick and sensitive abhorrence of the evil which becomes persons professing godliness. The claims of religion it should, however, be remembered, are higher than all others. “ If a man," says Jesus Christ, “love either father or mother, brother or sister, more than me, he is unworthy to be called my disciple.”
2. Israel loved Joseph more than all his children. - Much mischief has been occasioned in domestic circles by parental partiality. Sometimes it has happened that fathers and mothers have, from no discoverable motive, singled out as special favourites certain members of the family, while they have treated with
coldness, if not with cruelty, others as much entitled * to their regard. The consequences of such unmeaning favouritism have almost uniformly been unhappy. The child so unjustly selected from the rest, is made to acquire undue notions of his own importance, or rendered insolent and wayward, while the best affections of the others are checked and their worst pas.
sions brought into play. The house becomes, ere long, divided against itself, and not unfrequently the parents themselves reap of the seeds which they have sown in the ingratitude, disobedience, and mutual hatred of their offspring. We do not think it was thus with the venerable patriarch. He loved Joseph, indeed, more than all his children ; but he had good cause for doing so. His was not an unreasonable partiality or an unaccountable caprice; we are told that he did so, because he was the son of his old age. We should indeed greatly mistake the grounds of the preference, did we understand these words literally. It seems not a little strange that they have ever been so interpreted; were we even to take them in this sense, we should have some difficulty in reconciling with them the well-known fact, that Jacob had a younger son than Joseph. Benjamin was by several years his junior, and he therefore would have more properly been called in this respect, “the son of his old age.” But the truth is, the words in the original do not necessarily mean, that Joseph was peculiarly beloved by his father on account of the term of life which the latter had attained at his birth, but rather that he was a remarkably wise and thoughtful child that even in boyhood he gave proofs of discretion and understanding far beyond his years—and that there resided within him a spirit more characteristic of sober age, than of gay and light-minded youth. He was (so the words may be rendered) a son of age, that is of wisdom. · Ponder this, then, ye children, and be taught from it the fear of the Lord. Pray God that he would give unto you the instruction of wisdom, and make you of an understanding heart. With this view be much in the company of those to whom the hoary head is a crown of glory; sit at the feet of them who can recount to you the works of the Lord, and declare his mighty works; submit yourselves to healthful discipline and apply for counsel to your superiors in knowledge, in virtue, and in years. Be not ashamed to be seen more frequently at the knee of the grey-haired man, than in the company of the thoughtless. Incline more to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting. Employ all the means which God has placed within your reach of becoming wise unto salvation. Devote a stated portion of your time to reading, to meditation, and to prayer; and doubt not that, by the diligent observance of such means, you shall become wiser than your enemies. Wisdom shall be life unto your souls, and a crown of glory to your heads.
3. When the brethren of Joseph saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. The natures of these young men were as yet unsanctified by the grace of God. They ought to have rejoiced in the proofs which Joseph thus soon manifested of future eminence. They should have been thankful for the interest which he evinced in their reformation, and should have been provoked to an imitation of his excellencies ; but hatred and envy wrought mightily within them; they could not bear to see him more esteemed than they themselves were they were jealous of the place which he occupied in their father's regard, and took it ill that he so much surpassed them in talent and in virtue. Even if it had been an undue