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he saved, the other he hanged. Mark the providential circumstance in the forgetfulness of the chief butler. Joseph requested him to remember him before his master. But for two full years the chief butler forgot Joseph! Why was this? Had he made immediate application, and delivered him, Joseph would not now be at hand to interpret Pharaoh's dream, and accomplish all that the Lord had appointed for him. Joseph, without doubt, would have returned to his country. The chief butler, by the overruling Providence of God, forgot Joseph; but now the case is providentially brought to his mind, at the time when it served the purposes of God.
Jesus, after the suffering of death, was exalted, as Ruler over all worlds; Joseph, as a figure of this, was exalted over all Egypt. Joseph provided bread for Israel in their extremity: Jesus was the bread of life to the true Israel of God.
The children of Israel must be slaves in Egypt, to represent the natural slavery in which all the children of God are from the fall of Adam; and this is the means that God appointed to bring them there. The famine obliged them to seek food in Egypt; and this was the means of bringing them into the land of bondage. God, by his Providence, guides the affairs of this world, and in all things effects his eternal purposes. And all things work together for good to them who love God, and are called according to his purpose. Their very afflictions are sent in love
and in mercy.
From the history of Joseph we may see that the
same thing may be from man, in one point of view, and from God, in another; and that what man may do sinfully to the injury of the people of God, God may effect through them for the good of his people. It is man's work, yet it is, in another view, God's work. How it is God's work the ingenuity of man cannot point out, the intellect of man cannot discover. But that the same thing is of man and of God, the Divine testimony forbids us to doubt. "But as for you," says Joseph to his brethren, "ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."
PROSPERITY OF JOSEPH IN BONDAGE.
Can any thing more clearly prove the continual and immediate agency of Providence in the affairs of this world, than this account of the prosperity of the house of Potiphar for the sake of Joseph ? "And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian." The security and comfort of the man of God was not left to the operation of general laws. But "the Lord was with Joseph." And what was the consequence of the Lord's being with Joseph? Is not the prosperity of Joseph directly ascribed to this?" and he was a prosperous man." The prosperity of Joseph is not left to the influence of mere foresight and arrangement in Providence, but is the immediate effect of the
Lord's presence with him. Why, then, will the philosopher cruelly attempt to banish God from his people, and supply his place by certain fixed laws? Whether God acts by means of his usual laws, or contrary to them, his presence is equally necessary to produce the effect.
Here we are taught to consider worldly prosperity as the effect of Divine Providence. It is so in every instance, whether it respects his people or his enemies. Means are generally employed, but these means are of Providence as well as the event. Prosperity and adversity come both from God, though, in another respect, they may be the fruits of men's own doings.
But though God usually gives success to means, this is not universally the case. He sometimes shows that his own personal presence is necessary to the result. "Except the Lord build the house," says the Psalmist, "they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman watcheth but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep."
The agency of Providence was so visible in the affairs in which Joseph was concerned, that it was recognised even by his heathen master. "And
his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all things that he did to prosper in his hands." Here an ignorant pagan sees what blind philosophers, calling themselves Christians, cannot see. They see no need for God's
immediate presence and operations: all things can be effected by foresight and arrangement. This is as absurd as it is wicked. Can foresight do any thing? Can mere arrangement act? Is not an agent necessary to give effect to design ?
Here we see, also, the reason why Providence gives prosperity to his enemies. It is to fulfil some of his purposes. God prospered the affairs of Potiphar in the hands of Joseph, that Joseph might find favour with his master, as one of the steps in the process of bringing this type of Christ into prison, and then into glory. When God prospers the wicked, he has always some wise design in it. The fact neither proves that God does not conduct the affairs of men, nor that he prospers his enemies, and gives adversity to his people, out of caprice. All is done in wisdom.
This fact shows us, also, that God considers his Providence as sufficient evidence of his existence and agency. He acted in this providential way in order to produce a certain effect on Potiphar. And we see that Potiphar did understand the lesson. He saw that God was with Joseph. If so, all men will be held accountable for all that God hath done in his works of Providence, as well as of creation.
In like manner, when Joseph went to prison, the Lord was with him, and found favour for him in the sight of the keeper of the prison. In the case of the favour of Potiphar, we are informed of the way in which God wrought on the heart of a man who knew him not. He gave prosperity to Poti
phar through the management of Joseph. But in the case of the governor of the prison, we have no information of any means employed to excite a favourable sentiment towards the prisoner. The Lord can work without means as well as with means. "But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper." Whatever was the occasion of exciting the compassion of the keeper of the prison at first, the hand of Providence was soon visible in the management of Joseph; and in the prosperity of the affairs under his direction, the agency of God was recognised.
Let all Christians, in places of trust, act like Joseph; and from the lowest situations they may in the end be brought to the highest. Let them, on all occasions, not only act with the strictest fidelity, but let them discover an earnestness in the service of their employers. The most ungodly men will soon perceive that to have such persons in their employment is commonly for their advantage.