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JOSEPH'S BEAUTY.-Gen. xxxix. 6.
The comeliness of Joseph was a link in the chain of Providence that was essentially necessary to bring about the destined end. It was this that drew the attention of his mistress, and was the occasion of his being sent to prison. Accordingly, it is stated in this view by the inspired historian. Immediately before the account of her infamous attempt, it is said, "And Joseph was a goodly person, and well-favoured." Here we see not only that a Divine Providence was immediately engaged in bringing about the imprisonment of Joseph, but that it was in the view of God even in the formation of Joseph. This comeliness was given him for the very purpose. Had Joseph been an ordinary man, he would not have been sent to prison. Had he not been a remarkably handsome man, his virtue would not have been put to the test. Beauty, and wealth, and honour, and health, are all blessings of Providence, for which they ought to be thankful who possess them. But they are all the occasions of trial; and. without divine strength to resist temptation may be the occasion of fall and ruin. Let every Christian, then, watch and guard against the temptation to which his providential gift may expose him. A victory over temptation, like that of Joseph, is never to be expected, except in the strength of the faith and of the God of Abraham.
CHARACTER OF JOSEPH TAKEN AWAY BY FALSE
ACCUSATION.-Gen. xxxix. 13.
It might be supposed, that if Providence overrules and directs all things, the interests, and especially the characters of God's people, would always be safe and unassailed. Would any parent allow slander to exist even for a moment, or even to originate against his beloved children, if he were able to prevent it? But God's ways are not as our ways. Here we see, that instead of keeping his people from injury and the tongue of slander, it is by the means of false accusation that Providence brings Joseph to prison. The man of God is aspersed with calumny, and charged with sins which he had resisted under temptation of the strongest kind. That part of his character which is the admiration of every age, was the very part in which he suffered. A character was fixed on him, remarkable for crimes of which he was not only innocent, but to which he possessed the contrary virtues in a degree beyond any instances on record. And this false accusation had a plausibility that imposed on integrity, and prevailed, without anything for a long time to counteract it, keeping him in the bondage of a prison. There is no security, then, to the people of God, that their lives, their property, and their characters, may not be taken away unjustly. There may be occasions when Providence will open a door for any, or for all, of these calamities. But this will never be
the case, except it shall be for the glory of God, and for the good of the suffering individual. And, when in prison, Joseph was rendered comfortable by providential interference. If his character was unjustly taken away, it was restored in the fullest manner; and the virtues of his illustrious character are a perpetual record to his honour.
CIRCUMSTANCES MAY BE MISINTERPRETED, AS WELL AS FACTS MAY BE FORGED.-Gen. xxxix. 12.
It is usually considered that circumstances are the strongest evidences, and that, when facts may be forged, circumstances are expelled. Facts, supported by circumstances, are no doubt evidence beyond just question. But circumstances should not be admitted as decisive without a full consideration of their bearing. Here was a circumstance apparently so strong against Joseph, that at first view it is useless for counsel to attempt to extricate him. He leaves his cloak behind him. Can there be better evidence of the fact alleged, and of his guilt? Yet, when the thing is considered for a moment in a dispassionate manner, the circumstance is not quite so conclusive. No wonder Potiphar had not the coolness to weigh evidence on on this occasion; but we may do it for him. Why, wife of Potiphar, did you on that occasion act so courageous a part, instead of flying for refuge to some more secure part of the house? Were you more intent to secure the culprit as a pri
soner than to protect yourself from his insult? What need was there that you should seize him? Could your slave escape you? or would your husband be so incredulous as not to believe you? Joseph, you are the injured man; and this is a vile woman. She is not urged by a sense of duty to punish you, but, instigated by revenge, to ruin you, an innoAnd I have known, on occasions of accusations, some upright and impartial men ready, from a false interpretation of circumstances, to condemn the innocent, on the evidence of false accusers. It is remarkable, that, notwithstanding the leaning of modern times to the side of mercy, there are still occasionally some instances in which the innocent suffer, from a false interpretation of circumstances. When Providence, in any instance, has ordained this issue, vigilance is some way unaccountably asleep, and a strong disposition to punish flagrant injustice leads away from a cool consideration of the necessary import of circumstances. Joseph was ordered on this occasion to go to prison, therefore the deficiency in the evidence of circumstances did not occur to those who judged. No wonder that Potiphar should not be very suspicious to observe the flaw in the testimony. It is not either guilt or innocence, strictly speaking, that determines the fate of the accused at human tribunals. Innocence may be overwhelmed with calumny, and guilt may escape the keen eye of the most rigorous justice, and the most conclusive evidence. The lot of the prisoner is decided
by Providence, whether he unjustly suffers, or is unjustly cleared.
IMPRISONMENT OF THE CHIEF BUTLER AND CHIEF
BAKER.-Gen. xl. 1.
Why was Pharaoh on this occasion displeased with two of his attendants? Why did he at this particular time send them to prison? We know nothing of the matter. But we know that, whatever was the offence of his officers, and whatever induced him to send them to prison, the thing was of God, that Joseph might be introduced to Pharaoh. How wonderful is the Providence of God! It overrules in the crimes of subjects and in the caprices of despots. These two men must come to prison at this time, whether it was through their own crimes, or through false suspicions on the part of their lord. This is the way to make Joseph acquainted with majesty.
But it was not enough to bring them to prison, to introduce them to the acquaintance of Joseph; there must be something to be a means of bringing Joseph to the acquaintance of Pharaoh. What then must this be? Kindness, perhaps, on the part of Joseph, to the prisoners. This will not serve. This might liberate Joseph, but it will not raise him to the second place in Egypt. What then are we to have? Why, the dream-the dream is the thing. For this connects with the future dreams of Pharaoh, and brings Joseph to interpret them. The