Page images

I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God." Let it be our steadfast determination, in every sensual temptation and threatened danger, to "hold fast faith and a good conscience,” and “if any man suffer as a christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf," and "commit the keeping of his soul to God in well doing as unto a faithful creator."

I do not intend to add any further cautions against the particular sin, or further exhortations to the maintenance of the particular virtue, which appear the most prominently in this part of the history of Joseph. But I would conclude with a parting admonition to you against the commission of every kind of sin whatever, to which you may be tempted; and there is none to which the text would not very emphatically apply, "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God ?"

As Joseph expostulated thus with his mistress in that particular case, so might we expostulate with you respecting any offence.

Nay we might indeed say to you, how dare you do this great wickedness and sin against God? How dare you bring guilt upon your soul? How dare you provoke the indignation of God? Are you not afraid lest his judgment should seize you in the very act of sin, lest his lightning should smite you, or his earth open her mouth and swallow you up, or lest by some unseen visitation you be stretched in an instant a lifeless corpse ? Or if you escape any immediate and temporal punishment, are you not afraid of the future judgment, and of that irrevocable sentence which shall consign you to everlasting fire with the devil and his angels? How dare you to do or even think of that which may be attended with such fatal consequences?

But although I might speak to you thus, I would rather use more ingenuous and affecting motives, and confining myself to the exact expression of the text would say, How can you do such great wickedness, (let the supposed wickedness be what it may,) and sin against God? How can you bear

to sin against one so holy, so beneficent, so merciful, as God is in all things to you and to all his creatures? Do you not feel that in sinning against him you at once spurn his authority, shew contempt of his laws, abuse his goodness, frustrate the purpose of Christ, grieve and do despite unto his Spirit? How can you be guilty of so complicated an offence? How can you do any one act of that accursed thing, namely sin, from which your Saviour came to redeem you, and on account of which he died for you? How can you thus trample under foot the blood of Christ, crucify him afresh, and put him to an open shame? I trust that your hearts will feel these expostulations; that you will be affected by these motives. I trust that from henceforth you will remember the words of Joseph, upon every occasion on which you may be tempted to sin in any way, and exclaim with as much sincerity and decision as he did,

[ocr errors]

How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ?"



GENESIS XLI. 42. 43.

And Pharaoh took his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain upon his neck; And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.

HERE is another remarkable change in Joseph's fortune. The poor youth, whom we lately saw cast into prison on a most false accusation, is now become ruler of Pharaoh's house, and lord of all his substance. But the history of Joseph is a history of providence; and strikingly illustrates the manner

in which God governs the world by his influence on the minds of all people. God had by certain dreams sent to Joseph, intimated that he should be advanced above all his brethren. Here, you will see how all things are working together towards the bringing forth of that event. Circumstances, in appearance the most contrary to it, are all subserving its accomplishment; and while men of various classes and minds are doing that which is in their own hearts, God is making them to fulfil all his pleasure. And herein is the exhibition of two truths which our limited faculties may not perhaps be able perfectly to reconcile; the first, that while man is accountable for all his actions, God is yet the director of them all; and the second, that while the will of man freely devise and chooses what it pleases, it is devising and choosing according to the will of God, and under his influence.

We proceed to trace the circumstances of the history. We have seen how the wife of Potiphar had met with a repulse from the virtuous, honourable, and religious mind of

« PreviousContinue »