“And he was there in the prison"-But he was not alone there. But the Lord was with JosephNo doubt of it; for he hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” No situation can exclude God from access to his people; or keep them from intercourse with God. Jeremiah found him in the deep dungeon; John, in the isle of Patmos; and Paul, on the sea. His people sometimes wonder at this; the experience is beyond their expectation; and they say, with Jacob, “Surely God is in this place, and I knew it not.” But they might know it; especially if it be a scene of distress—for has he not said, “I will be with thee in trouble?"

“And he was there in the prison"-But he was not miserable there. All was peace within. His rejoicing was this, the testimony of his conscience. How much happier was he in this respect, than his vile mistress, who had knowingly belied him; and his brethren, who had cruelly sold him-how galled often would they be by reflection and self-reproach ! How much happier was he, the suffering slave, than Potiphar, his prosperous master-yea, than Pharaoh upon the throne! Strange as it may seem, this prisoner, in this wretched confinement, was by far the happiest man in Egypt. But he had the presence of God. This presence makes the fulness of joy above; and this presence here, turns a prison into a palace-into a temple. The world marvels to see how Christians are sustained and consoled in their afflictions; but the reason is, they cannot see all: they can see their burdens, but not the everlasting arms underneath them: they can see their sorrows, but not the comforts of the Holy Ghost shed abroad in their hearts—But they themselves know, that as the sufferings of Christ abound in them, the consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

“And he was there in the prison"-But he was not there in vain. He was a witness for the God of Israel; and the very manner of his suffering; his temper; his carriage-if he had said nothing, would have impressed all that beheld him. But he would also speak a word in season ; and his addresses, enforced by his example, would carry weight with them. He taught the master of the prison ; and his fellow-sufferers; and explained the dreams of the chief baker and butler; and thus raised wonder, and gained confidence, which he failed not to turn to advantage. There, also, he was himself at school ; and gained much useful knowledge, while “ the word of the Lord tried him.” His tribulation wrought patience, and patience experience, and experience hope. In the prison, he was prepared for the palace. By his adversity, he was made meet for prosperity. He could well say, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted.”

“And he was there in the prison"-But he was not there always. Nothing could detain him when the word of the Lord came, and commanded his deliverance. Till then, he relied on God's promise; but his confidence was sorely exercised : the event was not only delayed, but seemed to grow less probable, and the gloom thickened. But he found, that it is good for a man not only to hope, but quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. At length, and not a moment beyond his own appointed time, and not a moment beyond the best time, the Lord appeared ; and from prison he steps into the second chariot in Egypt.

Christians, the God you serve is continually able to deliver you. If you have his word, lay hold of it; and let it keep your mind in perfect peace, being stayed on Him. You have nothing to do with difficulties-indeed there are none where the truth of God is concerned. You believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth—He turneth the shadow of death into the morning. At evening tide, it shall be light.

Feb. 9.-My soul shall make her boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

Ps. xxxiv. 2.

We are prone to boast; and there is scarcely any thing that does not often call forth the tendency. Some boast of their beauty-Some, of the multitude of their riches-Some, of their pedigree and rankSome, of their genius, and learning, and knowledge. Some boast of their wickedness; which is glorying in their shame. Some boast of their goodness, when, too, they have none; for there is a generation who are pure in their own eyes, and are not washed from their filthiness. But they who have “the root of the matter” in them-Have they any right to boast? Is their religion derived from themselves? Is it self-sustained? Is it perfect? Where is boasting, then? It is excluded. By what law? The law of faith—for “it is of faith, that it might be of grace.” And this is its language: “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise ; and God bath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

But here we see, that we may glory in Him, though we are forbidden to glory in creatures, or in ourselves. Accordingly, David says, “My soul shall make her boast in the Lord.” And so ought we to resolve. And there are moments and frames, when, surveying Him in his works, and perfections, and promises, the believer can exult with joy unspeakable and full of glory


We to make her bocordingly, Dory in crear

All my capacious powers can boast,

“In thee most richly meet:
“Nor to my eyes is light so dear,

“Nor friendship half so sweet."

thy staff, til: for thou art shadow of death I walk

" What a Friend have I! a tried, kind, almighty, everlasting Friend: a Friend who loveth at all times, and has sworn that he will never leave me nor forsake me–This is my beloved, and this is my Friend, O ye daughters of Jerusalem. What a shepherd have I! The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul : he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness, for his Name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil : for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” What a God is mine! The God of truth; the God of all grace; a God in covenant; a God in Christ—This God is my God, for ever and ever: he will be my guide even unto death. What a portion is mine! "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”

But not only is included here, the elevation of joyous feeling, arising from the view and possession of magnificent good, but also the breaking forth of gratitude and praise. The selfish and the proud dislike the thought of dependence, and wish every acquisition to be considered as of their own procuring: “therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag.” But pious minds ever delight to own, that they have nothing but what they have received. It is very painful to be under obligations to an enemy; but how pleasant is it to be indebted to one we admire and love! They who, therefore, supremely love their God and Saviour, make their boast in the Lord. They will hereafter cast their crowns before the Throne; and

their language now is, “ By the grace of God, I am what I am.” “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.” “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels."

David supposes that his doing this would be known_“The humble shall hear thereof." They would possibly hear it from others: for the godly have their observers, and “are men wondered at.” They were likely to hear it from himself. Therefore, says he, “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his Name together. I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.” Spiritual sadness seeks seclusion and concealment. Then, as the stricken dear leaves the herd, the man sitteth alone and keeps silence, because he has borne it upon him. Peter went out and wept bitterly. But spiritual freedom and joy soon discover themselves. Like the return of health, and of day, it says to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. When Hannah was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore, it is said, she prayed in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. But when she had succeeded, she broke forth into a song, and said, “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies ; because I rejoice in thy salvation.”

David also inferred the effect this knowledge would produce in them—“The humble shall hear thereof, and be glad." He could reckon upon this, from his own disposition; and from the connexion

« 前へ次へ »