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He had now lived a considerable time in Potiphar's house, when his mistress casting her eyes upon him, in the absence of her husband, solicited him to sin with her. But Joseph abhorred it, and said to her, How can I be so wicked, as to abuse the confidence placed in me by my master, and comınit this sin against God? but she went on still to solicit him day by day, without obtaining her desires. At last, as Joseph was one day alone, she took hold of his garment, and pressed him to a consent. But Joseph left his garment in her hand, and fled. The woman in great indignation at his refusal, set up a loud cry, and call

, ing to the men of her house, she told them that Joseph had attempted to do her violence, and as soon as he had heard her cry out, he fled. And when her husband came home, she said the same things to him, and shewed him the garment as a proof of what she alledged. Potiphar, too credulous to the words of his wife, gave way to the violence of his passion, and shut him up in the prison where the king's prisoners were bound. But the Lord was with Joseph, had compassion on him, and

in the

eyes of the keeper of the prison.

Whilst Joseph was .in prison, two of the great officers of Pharaoh's court, the chief butler and the chief baker, were thrown into the same place by the king's order. And the keeper charged Joseph with them, as he had with all the other prisoners. Some time after they both dreamed a dream in the same night, which gave them great uneasiness. Joseph explained their dreams, and foretold to the butler, that within three days he should be restored to his employment; and told the baker, that within three days Pharaoh would hang him on a tree, and the birds should eat his flesh from off him. And as he had said, so it fell out. The chief baker was put to death, and the butler restored. Joseph besought the butler to shew kindness to him, to make mention of him before Pharaoh, and bring him out of prison ; for I was stolen away, says he, from the land of the


Hebrews, and have done nothing that they should shut me up in this dungeon. But the chiet' butler being restored again to favour, thought no more of his interpreter.



Qu. What must we think of God's behaviour towards Joseph, whose virtue drew upon him such ill treatinent, first from his brethren, who hated him, and cruelly used him; and then from his mistress, Potiphar's wife, who wrongfully accused him, and eaused him to be shut up like a wretch in a dungeon?

Answ. It has pleased God by this conduct to lay before us very important instructions.

I. His design is to undeceive mankind in the false notions they entertain of providence and virtue. They are apt to think that God neglects the care of human affairs, when those that fear him are oppressed and in misery. They think that virtue should always render such as are sincerely possessed of it happy in this life. The scripture overthrows these mistaken prejudices by the example of Joseph, over whom God was peculiarly watchful, and yet he was hated by his brethren, sold, banished,' wrongfully accused and thrown into prison; and for all this preserved his virtue pure and unsullied, without being ever the better for it for severalyears; and waseven thrown into captivity, and ran the hazard of losing his life only for constantly persevering in his duty. It is true, God afterwards broke his bonds, and raised him to supreme authority. But Joseph was prepared to suffer oppression to the end of his days. He consented to die in prison, if it so pleased God; and would have been no less precious in his sight, nor less secure of the eternal blessings he hoped from his mercy, though he had appeared to have been forsaken by him to the last monient.

Qu. Does it actually appcar, that God took a peculiar card of Joseph, during his misfortunes ?


Ans. The scripture seems to have been particularly careful to make us observe in what manner God protected his servant, by informing us [9] that God was always with him, and for this reason he was a prosperous man; that he caused him to find favour in the sight of his master, who saw that God was with him and that he blessed him in all that he did; that he put it into Potiphar's heart to make him, young as he was, the overseer over all his house ; that to engage the master to his servant by a stronger and more lasting degree of affection, the Lord blessed the house of the Egyptian for Joseph's sake, and his blessings was upon all that he had in the house and in the field; insomuch that he left all that he had in his hand, and knew not ought he had, save the bread that he eat; that when Joseph was cast into prison, the Lord shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison, insomuch that he committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison, without looking to any thing that was under his hand ; and placed such confidence in hin, that nothing was done there without his direction; that lastly, whatever he did the Lord made it to prosper.

Qu. But notwithstanding all these favours, was not the prison a very sorrowful dwelling for Joseph ?

Ans. When thrown into prison, he 'seemned forsaken of all; but God descended with him into the obscure dungeon, wherein he was shut up. For the Lord was with Joseph. And the scripture does not scruple to say, that the eternal Wisdom became in a manner a prisoner with him ; [r] She went down with him into the pit, and left him not in bonds. She softened the tediousness of the nights, which were spent in watching and suffering. She was a light in that darkness, whither the rays of the sun could not penetrate. She removed from solitude and captivity, which neither reading nor business could diminish or suspend the sense of, the terrible weight of disquie[9] Gen. xxxix. 2, &c

[r] Wisd. x. 13, 14,

tude, tude, which shocks the most resolute. And lastly, she diffused a calmness and serenity over his mind, of which the source was invisible and inexhaustible. When Joseph was made a partner in the throne of Pharaoh, it is not said, that Wisdom ascended with him thither, as it is said that she descended with him into prison. She accompanied him without doubt in the second estate, but the first was dearer to Joseph, and must be so to every man that has faith.

Qu. What other instruction has it pleased God to give us in the conduct he observed with regard to Joseph ?

Ans. He would teach us in the second place how his providence conducts all things to the execution of his designs, and how he makes the very obstacles, which men strive to throw in their way, subservient to them. The design of God was to raise Joseph to such a degree of greatness and power, as should oblige his brothers to bow down humbly before him. Joseph's brethren opposed it; but, says the scripture, [s] There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord. What they did to humble Joseph was the first step, by which God leads him to elevation and glory; and the horrible calumny of his unchaste mistress, which seemed to complete his misfortunes, was the circumstance which advanced him almost to the throne.

This Joseph observes himself to his brethren afterwards, by telling them it was not they that had sent him into Egypt, but God that had brought him thither. [t] So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God. These words are great matter of consolation to such as have faith. Whatever shall be designed against them, shall become the means of securing their happiness and salvation. Secret machinations, or open hatred, captivity, or calumny, shall bring them to the point which grace has marked out for them; after which envy and injustice shall be con[s] Prov. xxi. 30.

[1] Gen. xlv. 8,

founded, founded, and when they shall have settled Joseph upon the throne, they shall tremble in his presence.

Qu. What means did Joseph make use of to resist the temptation laid for him by his mistress?

Ans. We find in his conduct an excellent model of what we should do, when we are tempted. Joseph defends himself at first by the remembrance of God and his duty. How, says he, to that bold and shameless woman, can I commit such an action, who have God for my witness and my judge? It is in his sight that you and I shall both become criminal. It is he who commands me to disobey you on this occasion. Ilow can I escape his view, or corrupt his justice, or he covered from his indignation; [u] How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? But when the temptation was become so strong, that he had cause to fear his weakness might vield to it, he betakes himself to flight, forsakes all, and exposes himself to the utmost hazard, rather than continue in such a state, as might incline him to offend against God. Qu. Is there no other reflection to be made

upon the misfortunes and disgrace of Joseph ?

Ans. How severe and unjust soever the treatment was which Joseph was to undergo, he never let fall the least word of murmuring and complaint. He never abandoned himself to discouragement, whilst he was a bond-slave, but gave himself up entirely to the service of his master. So much leisure as prisoners have, and notwithstanding the natural inclination of mankind to talk of their own adventures, he never made a recital of his. And when under a necessity of laying himself open to the chief butler, he does it with such a moderation and charity as cannot be sufficiently admired. For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrows, and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon. He neither names his brethren who had sold him, nor his mistress who had unjustly accused him. He only says, that he was carried away and made a slave, [u] Gen. xxxix, 9.


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