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principal end which God has proposed in connecting all the duties, virtues, precepts, salutary truths, mysteries, and in a word all religion, with such facts as men of every condition, age, and character, are affected, because they fall within their capacity, and are no less agreeable than useful. To omit such observations, were to deprive youth of the greatest advantages to be reaped from the sacred books, and leave them ignorant of the essential part of scripture.

Having pointed out the principal things to be observed in reading and explaining Sacred History, and in some measure laid down the foundations and principles of that study, I shall next make the application of the

to some particular facts, to shew how the rules I have advanced may be reduced to practice; and this I shall do with the greates order and clearness

that I can.

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THE APPLICATION OF THE FOREGOING PRINCI

PLES TO SOME EXAMPLES.

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THE examples to which I shall apply the rules I have laid down, shall be taken from two great men very famous in scripture, Joseph and Hezekiah. And to the history of these two I shall add one article upon the prophecies.

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AS this story is very long and well known, I shall be obliged to omit or abridge several circumstances, though very material in themselves, that I may not dwell too much upon this subject. X4

I. Joseph

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I. Joseph sold by his brethren, carried into Egypt, brought into Potiphar's house, and thrown into prison, Gen. xxxvii, xxxix, xl.

Jacob had twelve children, of which Joseph and Benjamin the youngest, were born to him of Rachel: The particular affection which Jacob expressed towards Joseph, and the liberty Joseph took of charging his brothers before him with a crime the scripture does not mention, and the account he gave them of his dreams, which denoted his future greatness, raised their jealousy and hatred against him.

One day as they saw him coming up to them in the country, where they were feeding their flocks, they said to one another, See here the dreamer cometh; come now therefore, let us kill him, and throw him into a pit, and we shall see what will become of his dreams. Upon the remonstrance of Reuben, they contented themselves with throwing hiın into the pit

, and taking away his coat. Soon after they drew him out from thence, to sell him to a company of Ishmaelite merchants, who were going down into Egypt, and accordingly sold kiim to them for twenty pieces of silyer. After this they took his coat, and dipped it in the blood of a kid, and sent it to Jacob, saying, This coat have we found ; see now whether it be thy son's coat, or no. And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; a wild beast has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. And Jacob rent bis cloches, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for . his son many days.

The Ishmaelites carried Joseph into Egypt, and sold him to one of the principal officers in Pharaoh's court, named Potiphar. And the Lord, say the scriptyre, was with Joseph, and the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. His master seeing that the Lord was with him, took him into favour, made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hands. Also the Lord blessed the house of Potiphar, and he multiplied bis blessings on all that he had, for Joseph's sake.

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He had now lived a considerable time in Potipharis 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 cominit 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 calling 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 saine 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

gave

him 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; før I was stolen away, says he, from the land of the

Hebrews,

grace in the

in the eyes

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

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REFLECTIONS.

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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 caused hiin 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.

1. His design is to undeceive mankind in the false motions 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 virtuc pure and unsullied, without being ever the better for it for severałyears; and waseven throwninto 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 monent.

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

Ans.

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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 him, 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 seemed 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 ; [] 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 disquic[9] Gen. xxxix. 2, &c

[r] Wisd. X. 13, 14,

tude,

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