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THE HISTORY OF JOSEPH.-Gen. xxxvii.
The history of Joseph is a series of miracles of Providence. In it the hand of God, in the ruling of the world, is admirably revealed. God does his will through the voluntary actions of men, and effects his purpose as well by his enemies as by his friends; and through the disobedience and ignorance of his people, as well as through their obedience and knowledge. To account for this is beyond the reach of human intellect. Proud man tries to fathom the abyss, and when he fails, he relieves himself by denying its existence. He will not receive both parts of the truth, but, according to his humour, will modify one of them so as to suit the other, that he may glory that he can discover the deep things of the unsearchable God. What he cannot comprehend, with him cannot be true. Will vain man never cease to strive with the Almighty? Will he never learn that the ways of the Lord are inscrutable? "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out."
Joseph was selected by God as one of the persons who were to be types of Christ; and the peculiarity of his typical resemblance required every fact in his history. Jesus was envied and hated by his brethren the Jews: Joseph, as his type in this respect, must be hated by his father's
To effect this, Joseph must be the darling of his father. Was it wise, was it just, in Jacob to show so marked a preference to his son Joseph? The best child should certainly be the most esteemed; but the preference of Joseph was because he was the son of the old age of his father. Some have struggled to relieve the Patriarch from this reprehension, but in vain. And there is no need to strain the word of God, to excuse or justify Jacob in the preference. It was still more foolish to distinguish the favourite by the singularity of his dress. This could have no other tendency than to provoke the jealousy of his brethren. Yet this imprudent expression of the partiality of his father might be divinely directed as a shadow of what happened to him who was typified by Joseph, when - his robe was stripped off, and when he himself was truly rent in pieces by the wild beasts of the forest on Mount Calvary. What Jacob believed about his darling son, was true with respect to the well beloved Son of God. "Without doubt he was torn in pieces."
Joseph's dreams finished what Jacob's imprudence had first excited. But why did he tell his dreams? Had he not, though younger, as much sagacity to interpret his own dreams as had his brethren? If he did understand them, why did not his prudence conceal them? If their meaning was concealed from him, why was it concealed ? Still more strange! When he told his first dream, did he not see that his brethren understood its import? Why,
then, did he childishly tell the second? Here this son of prudence, wise in youth, providentially acts in the most unguarded manner, evidently that a way might be opened for his future history.
When the moment approached which God had appointed to send Joseph to Egypt, his Providence opened the way, and put the means in train. The sons of Jacob were feeding their flocks at a distance, and it occurs to Jacob to send Joseph to visit them. Why had the sons of Jacob removed to such a distance from Hebron? why at this particular time? Because this opened a way to fulfil the Lord's purposes. Now all things concur to bring about the predestined event. All the lines meet in this centre. As soon as his brethren discovered him at the greatest distance, it instantly occurred to them to rid themselves of the object of their envy. "And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.” Yes, to slay him, and he who was typified by Joseph was truly slain; but it was not God's design to give effect to this conspiracy of murder, and, therefore, his Providence disappointed this part of the scheme. The heart of Reuben relented so far as to wish to prevent the death of the young man. How often are the intended deeds of blood prevented by a similar Providence! Some of the conspirators incline to mercy, and God uses their sympathy to prevent the execution. Jesus was to be buried in the heart of the earth: Joseph, his type, was cast into a pit ; and the voice of prophecy speaks of the sufferings
of Jesus as a sinking into a miry pit. But Jesus was to arise from the dead soon after his burial, and Joseph was drawn alive out of the pit in which he was placed by the cruelty of his brethren.
Jesus was to be sold: Joseph must be sold to represent him in this part of his sufferings. Jesus was to be sold by Judas, one of his brethren, one of his disciples; Joseph must then be sold by Judas, one of his brethren. Jesus was to be carried into Egypt, the typical house of bondage, because he took on him the sins of the Israel of God: Joseph, therefore, must be carried as a slave into Egypt.
But how is he to go to Egypt? Divine Providence has a conveyance in readiness, and a messenger waiting to receive the exile. Just as his brethren had let down Joseph into the pit, and had sat down to eat and drink, they "lifted up their eyes, and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead with their camels, bearing spicery, and balm, and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt." What brought them at this critical moment? and why were they Ishmaelites? As Ishmael himself mocked Isaac; and this is by the Apostle Paul interpreted as typifying the children of the flesh of Abraham persecuting his children by promise; so, here, the Ishmaelites, for a like reason, are the persons who sold Joseph to the Egyptians. The Jews, the carnal seed of Abraham, delivered Jesus to the Gentiles to be crucified. "And Joseph was brought down into Egypt: and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian,
bought him of the hands of the Ishmaelites, which had brought him down thither."
In the person who bought Joseph we see the direction of Providence. Joseph might have come into Egypt, and remained in it through life, without an opportunity of rising to his destined dignity. How many thousands might have been his purchasers? How did it happen that an officer of the king of Egypt, even the officer of the guard, was the purchaser of Joseph? How many chances, in the language of man, were against this? Yet Joseph comes immediately into the house of Potiphar.
In the house of Potiphar the Providence of the Lord protected Joseph, and obtained for him the unbounded confidence of his master. But this prosperity must be interrupted. Joseph must go to prison, and from prison to court. To bring this to pass, Divine Providence employed the wickedness of his mistress. In prison he found favour; and that prison, providentially, was the one in which the king's prisoners were bound. This circumstance was the occasion of his deliverance and exaltation. After Joseph was imprisoned, it happened that two of Pharaoh's servants, that served about his person, were cast into the same prison. What a chance! The whole matter is of the Lord.
This made Jo
seph known, at the proper time, to the king of Egypt. Jesus died between two malefactors, one of whom he saved, the other he suffered to perish in his sins. Joseph was imprisoned with two criminals, one of whom, by his interpretation of dreams,