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though freeborn, and condemned to a cruel prison, though he was innocent. Another person of less humility and prudence, would have told the story of his life, and insisted on the most honourable circumstances. If he had done so, the Holy Ghost would have left a virtue in darkness, which rather than subsist in obscurity, would have chose to have been comforted under misfortune, by the vain satisfaction of making itself admired; whereas care has been taken to let all ages know what Joseph would not have mentioned in secret, nor in the obscure dungeon wherein he was shut up. : II. Joseph's advancement. The first descent of his brethren into Egypt, Gen. xli, xlii.
At the end of two full years, after the butler was restored, Pharaoh dreamed two dreams in the same night. In the one he saw seven fat kine coming up out of the river, which were devoured by seven other lean kine, that came up after them out of the same river. In the second he saw seven full ears of corn, which were presently after devoured by seven thin ears. And when none of the wise men of Egypt could interpret these dreams, the butler remembered Josepli
, and spoke of him to the king, who caused him presently to be brought out of prison and told him his dreams. Joseph answered, that the seven fat kine and the seven full ears signified seven years of plenty; and the seven lean kine and thin ears signified seven years of famine which were to succeed them. And he advised the king to look out a wise and discreet man, who should be employed during the seven years of plenty to lay up part of the corn in public store-houses, that Égypt might be supplied from thence in the years of famine. This counsel pleased Pharaoh, and he said to Joseph, I appoint thee this day to rule over the land of Egypt; according to thy word shall my people be governed, and only I shall be greater than thou. At the same time he took
off his [x] ring from his hand, and put it upon Joşeph's hand; and he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had, and they cried before him, Bow the knee. He also changed his name, and gave him one which signified, The saviour of the world.
The seven years of plenty fell out, as Joseph had foretold. And he gathered up a great quantity of the corn, and laid it in the king's store-houses. The famine came next, and spread itself over all countries; but in Egypt there was corn. And when the people were almost famished, they cried' unto Pharaoh for bread. And he said unto them, Go unto Joseph, what he saith unto you, do. Joseph then opened the store-houses, and sold corn to the Egyptians and other nations.
Jacob, having heard that there was corn in Egypt, ordered his sons to go down thither. They went to the number of ten; for Jacob kept Benjamin with him, lest soine accident should happen to him by the way. When they were come into Egypt, they presented themselves before Joseph, and bowed down before him. Jaseph knew his brethren, and secing them lie at his feet, he remembered the dreams which he had formerly dreained, but did not make himself known unto them. He spoke to them roughly, and treated them as spies, who were come to take a view of the country. But they answered him, My lord, we are come to buy corn; we are twelve brothers, all one man's sons, who is in the land of Canaan.' The youngest is left with our father, the other is dead. Well then, answers Joseph, by this ye shall be proved. Send one of you to fetch your brother, and the rest shall be kept in prison. He thought fit however to detain but one of them. Struck with terror and remorse, they said one to another in their own language, This distress is justly come upon us, for being guilty concerning our brother. We saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us to have pity on him, but we would not hear [*] This ring was the royal seal.
him; therefore is this misfortune come upon us. Reuben, one of them, said to them, Spake I not then unto you, Do not sin against the child, and you would not hear; therefore now is his blood required of you by God. Joseph, who understood them, thongh they knew it not, could not refrain from weeping. He left them for a inoment, and returned again to talk with them. Then he took Simeon, and bound him before their eyes; and privately commanding his officers to restore every man's money into his sack, they departed with their asses loaden with coin.
Qu. Why did God leave Joseph in prison so many years, without seeming to be mindful of him?
Ans. This term, which seems long indeed to a prisoner, was necessary to confirm Joseph in humility, submission to the will of God, and patience. We should have looked upon him with concern, had we seen him in bonds, and known his innocence. But God, who had a far more indulgent and tender compassion for him, left him in a condition from which we should have delivered him. He knew what was wanting to his virtue; how long the remedies requisite for his health were to last. He saw his future temptations and dangers, and prepared for him during his bondage the assistances and strength he would stand in need of after his advancement. Thus he deals with his elect; he strengthens them in patience and humility, and does not expose them to temptation, till they are duly prepared to resist it.
Qu. How came Pharaoh so easily to resolve upon the choice of Joseph for his first minister, and to invest a stranger and a foreigner with sovereign power?
Ans. It is the happiness of a nation, when a prince is inspired with a salutary thought. Whilst Joseph was speaking to the ears of Pharaoh, God instructed him in secret. lle caused him to attend to the sage adrice and prudent counsels of a stranger and a captive;
and removed from him all the prejudices, which so frequently hinder persons in high station from submitting to the evidence of truth, and acknowledging an understanding superior to their own. He made, him comprehend, that a mere human wisdom would be improper to execute what had been suggested to him by wisdom from above, and that it would be in vain to seek out for any other minister, than the person whom God had chosen. Can we find, [y] says Pharaoh, such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?
In talking thus, he entirely reformed the errors of a false policy, which considers virtue and religion as unserviceable in the government of a state, and finds an exact probity too great a check upon its views and projects. This stupid impiety is exposed to eternal shame by an infidel king. He is convinced, that the more of the Spirit of God a minister has, the more capable he is of governing a kingdom. And the least attention suffices to discover, that the opposite principle flows from the utter want of human understanding
Qu. What must we think of Joseph's glory, when raised almost to a throne ?
Ans. The Holy Ghost informs us in another book, that the calumnies which had been cast upon Joseph, were then fully dispersed, and the authors of them convicted of forgery. [>] As for them that had accused him, she shewed them to be liars, and gave him perpetual glory. Thus the pomp which surrounded him, was the triumph of virtue. It was virtue, that was exposed a spectacle to all nations; that was seats ed in a magnificent chariot, from whence she instructed the righteous in all ages, never to give way to despair, but to retain an invincible patience. It was before virtue, that all the world bent the knee, and Joseph was the herald, exhorting all men to the practice of virtue, at the same time that the herald, who went
[<] Wisd. x. 14.
() Gen. xli. 23. YOL. II.
before him, required that external mark of respect to be paid to the first minister of Pharaoh,
Qu. Were Joseph's dreams fulfiiled, with respect to his brethren?
· Ans. They were evidently so, upon their falling prostrate at his feet.[a] And Joseplis brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth. Thus was brought to pass what they had been so apprehensive of, when they knew not the interest they had in owning him for their master. The more they strove to prevent it, and make themselves independent of him, the inore they contributed to advance his authority. They resolved not to fall down before him, whilst they had him amongst them; but go to seek him in Egypt, to throw themselves at his fect. They forsook him, and would have taken
. away his life, when sent to them by their father; but were compelled to appear before him, after a kind of resurrection, with fear and trembling. They fall down before him like Egypt and the other nations, whose example they follow, and are not afraid of being rejected by him, because they look upont him as the saviour of the world; whereas they had before been apprehensive of being subject to him, , whilst they considered only their own depression in his advancement.
· Qut. What do we learn from the remorse of Joseph's brethren, for the cruel treatment they had shewn him? . Ans. We see in their self-accusations both the force of conscience, and the advantage of the holy education Jacob gave his children, which, though not always void of offence, was still never totally extinguished; they revered the law, which condemned their actions. We are verily guilty, [b] said they one to another, concerning our brother, and therefore is this distress justly come upon us. Men can never entirely efface the sense, which God has impressed upon their
, hearts of his presence and justice. They will never [a] Gen. xlii. 6.
(6] Ibid. xlii. 21.,