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Fear and shame, hope and pleasure, would all be at work at once. Yet the former predominated. It is strikingly expressed in the sacred narrative, "His brethren could not answer him, for they were troubled at his presence." But he hastened to dispel their fears; he bade them come nigh to him; he soothed their spirits; he opened a strong source of consolation, both as it assured them of his forgiveness, and prevented their sinking under fear and despondency before God, by leading their thoughts to the wondrous designs and management of Providence in this affair: "Now therefore," he said, "be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life." And again, "So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt." He told them that they should go home, and inform his father of all his glory, and bring his father, and the whole family to him, that he might preserve them all during
the remaining five years of the famine which were yet to come, and he fell on Benjamin's neck and wept, and kissed them all, and shewed himself to them without any feelings but those of affection, kindness, and love.
How changed now were the circumstances of the sons of Jacob! And what happy feelings would fill all their hearts! The decrees of God respecting Joseph's advancement were all fulfilled, and he saw his brethren humbled and penitent for the cruelty which they had used to him to prevent their accomplishment. The words which he spake to them respecting the purpose and agency of God in this matter could neither be intended by him nor supposed by them to be any justification or excuse for the part which they had borne in it. They were meant by Joseph to assure them of his forgiveness, and to encourage them to hope that God also would pardon them. And this, while it removed their fears, would affect them with a deeper repentance. And, in like manner, any one of the murderers of Jesus, when he was afterwards enlightened in the doctrine of
the cross, might well find therein the most powerful preventative against being swallowed up with over much sorrow for his own part in the scorn and cruelty manifested on that day. And it will ever be the disposition of the truly humbled and penitent, to feel and lament their sins the more, the more they see of the mercy and goodness of God. His forgiving them freely, so far from being the cause of their forgetting or thinking lightly of their own offences, will affect their minds with the strongest emotions of godly sorrow and deep humiliation : it will remove their fears, but it will increase every feeling and act of genuine repentance. Thus saith God himself, speaking by the mouth of his prophet Ezekiel, (xvi. 62, 63.) "I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: that thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done."
JACOB'S INTERVIEW WITH PHARAOH.
GENESIS XLVII. 8, 9.
And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.
Mr. SCOTT observes upon this verse that we have in it," a very uncommon answer given to a very common question, but that it is an answer full of pertinent instruction and admonition." It is an answer, we may add, that is exceedingly suitable in the mouth of an aged man of God, whose mind is habitually intent upon eternal things, and whose
heart is desirous of communicating some spiritual good to all into whose company he may come. It is an exemplification of the rule long afterwards given by St. Paul to the Ephesians, (iv. 29,) "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers ;" to the Colossians, (iv. 6,) “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." Before we can enter upon the consideration of this answer, it will be necessary, in the first place, to pursue the history from the place at which we left it to this present introduction of Jacob to the royal presence of the sovereign of Egypt. We saw, in our last sermon, the affecting manner in which Joseph made himself known to his brethren, and the kind and consolatory words with which he endeavoured to encourage and comfort them. The report of the arrival of Joseph's brethren having reached the ears of Pharaoh, he and his nobles were well pleased thereat, and the king immediately directed