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I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold inta
W ERE we to look upon the holy
Scriptures as containing nothing more than so many records of facts and mere historical collections, without considering them in their proper light, as invaluable repositories of high and heavenly truths, as complete systems of the most refined morality, and authentic registers of all the various dispensations of God to man; even such a low and partial notion of them could not but recommend them to the careful perusal and highest esteem of every wise and thinking inan. PS
For they relate not only the actions of the great, the revolutions of kingdoms, and the fates of empires, from which many useful reflections may be drawn; such as the instability of all human greatness, and the absolute necessity of the practice of virtue to whole nations as well as individuals, both to the governors and the governed, for their mutual support and security; but they contain also many curious memoirs of particular families and porsons, which every man" may bring home to himself, and draw from them such observations as will be of the greatest use to him in the happy regulation of his conduct through all the changes and chances of this mortal life. re... "
· Such is the story of the adventures of the family of Jacob, as related in the book of Genesis: a story, in which we know not which we should most admire, the graceful simplicity with which it is told, the affecting strokes of tenderness and pity it abounds with, or the well-wrought scenes it displays of the extremities of joy and grief rapidly succeeding each other. In short, every tender sentiment is awakened, which can arise from the endearing relations of a brother, a son, and a father: the inmost workings of the human breast are made bare, and nature herself is exposed to view in unadorned and artless majesty.
To be fully convinced of this, we must have recourse to the holy page itself; since any other 'manner of relating the story, or any other words than those which are there made use of, would render the whole less beautiful and affecting. It will however be necessary, in order to the more easy application of it to my present purpose, to lay before you a faint sketch of its most material and leading parts.
The Patriarch Jacob, after having been exercised in the early parts of his life with a variety of evils, was in his more advanced years, blessed with a numerous offspring; to all of whom he was a fond and indulgent father. But there was one of them, Joseph, who had more particularly engaged his affections; not only
by his being the son of his most beloved wife, and the son of his old age, but also by the beauty of his person, the sprightliness of his genius, and the gentleness of his manners and disposition. These endearing circumstances had distinguished. him from his brothers, by some peculiar. marks of his father's favour and indulgence. His brethren, therefore, moved with envy by so excusable a partiality in an aged parent, and also by certain dreams which Joseph had related to them, in which God had revealed to him both his own future greatness and their subjection to him, entered into a most unnatural conspiracy to take away his life. And long it was not before an opportunity offered itself of executing their hellish purpose: for whilst they were feeding their father's flock in Shechem, Israel, with a fond anxiety for their welfare, called Joseph, and said unto him, “ Go, I pray “ thee; see whether it be well with thy “ brethren, and well with their flocks, " and bring me word again;" little suspecting into what hands he had delivered him.-- far more merciless than the, rapa
cious wolf or the devouring vulture. For no sooner did they see him approaching, but they said one to another, “ Behold, 6 this dreamer cometh: come now, there“ fore, and let us slay him, and cast him “ into some pit.” But the risings of nature in two of his brothers prevented the others from carrying their horrid barbarity to its full extent: Reuben, by a well-meant stratagem, snatching him out of the jaws of an immediate death by their hands; and Judah, delivering him from a lingering and painful one, by prevailing on them to take him out of the pit into which they had cast him, and to sell him for a slave to some merchants, who were then passing by on their way to Egypt; by whom he was again sold to Potiphar, the Captain of Pharaoh's guard. Potiphar was soon so much charmed with the fidelity and prudence of his young slave, that he presently advanced him to be the overseer of his house, and trusted him so unreservedly, that, as it is very emphatically expressed, “ he knew not “ ought he had, save the bread which he • did eat,"