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this visit to his father, than all the pageantry of Pharaoh's court!
Joseph had the submission and resignation of a believer, but he also had the sensibilities of a man. He fell on the lifeless corpse of his father, and wept, and kissed him. He had cause to weep; but he must have been consoled by the remembrance of that filial tenderness and affection which he had ever displayed-by the recollection that he had never wilfully inflicted a pang on the heart of his father. What would not Reuben, Simeon, and Levi have given, could they have had this consolation, instead of the agony, the self-reproach, and remorse, with which they are tortured, when they look upon the dead body of their father, and remember how often they had pierced with anguish that heart which now has ceased to beat! Children, as you would look with composure on the dead bodies of your parents, as you would desire to remember them without
agony, self-proach, and remorse, perform to them now those offices of love which God and nature require
In conformity with the oath that he had taken, Joseph prepared to remove the body of Jacobto Canaan, there to be interred in the sepulchre of Abraham. He caused it to be embalmed, after the manner of the Egyptians—a circumstance rendered necessary by the length of the intended journey, and a proper mark of respect to him who was so nearly related to the governor of the country. Joseph himself went with the relicks of his dear father to Canaan, and deposited him in the cave of Machpelah, with the precious dust of his progenitors.
Whilst mourning for his father, Joseph was afflicted by a message that he received from his brethren.
They supposed that he might have abstained from revenge, merely from veneration for their common parent, but that now they would fall under his heaviest displeasure. They sent, therefore, in the most supplicating terms, to implore forgiveness, enforcing their request with the sacred names of his father and his father's God. They also came to him, and did voluntarily what they had at first scorned to do, and did afterwards unknowingly; they prostrated themselves before him, and said, “Behold, we be thy servants." Let the generous heart that is suspected, when it has only purposes of kindness, judge of the distress of Joseph. He wept at their submission; he cheered them with assurances of kindness; and said to them, * Fear not-for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good. Now, therefore, fear ye not; I will nourish you and your little ones. And he comforted them and spake kindly unto them.” Beautiful example of Christian charity! Do we imitate it? Are we ready, at all times, to forgive and do good to our enemies? If not, let us tremble in repeating that prayer taught us by our Lord. In the mouths of the revengeful, it is the imprecation of an awful curse upon themselves, and a horrible profanation of the name of God.
Though he lived fifty-four years after the death of his father, yet this portion of his history is comprised in a few sentences. He diffused happiness around him, and saw his father's house and his own descendants greatly multiplied. Arrived at the close of life, his heart was cheered with a hope full of eternal happiness. He died in faith,” says the inspired author of the epistle to the Hebrews. Knowing that the promises of God would be fulfilled, he ordered
his body to be preserved, and his bones to be carried into Canaan when the Lord should visit his
people. And we find, in a subsequent part of the sacred history, that when the Israelites departed from Egypt, his bones were conveyed as a sacred deposite, and as a proof of the fidelity of God to his promises.
It was not necessary to inform us concerning his soul, as we are told of that of Lazarus, that “it was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom." His holiness and devotion to God assure us that he was united to his great progenitors, and “ sat down with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob."
LIFE OF JOB,
Job xlii. 17.
6 So Job died, being old and full of days."
The book of Job, considered merely as a literary composition, claims our greatest attention. It contains many sublime strains of poetry-many glowing descriptions of the attributes, the works, and providence of God of the state and destination of man,
which cannot be read without emotion by persons of feeling or taste. Its high antiquity also excites a reverential feeling. Perhaps it is the very first work ever written which is now extant; and at any rate, it is exceeded in antiquity only by the Pentateuch. From the earliest ages-from the most distant lands --from the hoary ruins of the greatest revolutions in taste and manners which have taken place during the lapse of three or four thousand years, we hear a 'voice speaking to us in this book; and we say to ourselves in its impressive language, “We are but of yesterday, and know nothing; because our days on earth are but a shadow. But the fathers here teach us and tell us ; they utter words out of their heart.” (Job viii. 8, 9.)
It is not, however, my intention to consider its literary merit, nor to enter in detail into any of the controversies to which it has given rise; but merely to exhibit the character and conduct of the venerable man whose name it bears, after a few necessary preliminary remarks.
We cannot certainly tell by whom it was written. By some it has been attributed to Job himself, with the exception of the concluding part; by others, to Moses; while others, with perhaps more probability, suppose that it was written in Arabic by Elihu, (ch. xxxii. 15–17.) and translated into the Hebrew by Moses.
Except the simple historical narration of the events which befel Job, it is all written in the highest style of Hebrew poesy. The exact words used in the conversation between him and his friends, are probably not retained, but the arguments preserved, and the substance of them thrown into the present form.
In a few other respects, we find a poetical colouring always allowable in works of this kind.
Neither can we precisely ascertain the period when Job lived; though it is probable that he flourished between the death of Joseph, and the appearance of Moses at the court of Pharaoh, to demand the liberation of the Israelites. We read of no such eminent person in this period, that it might not with propriety be said of Job, as it was, “ There was
66 none like him in all the earth.” That he lived before the giving of the law, is shown from the length of his life, which was extended probably to two hundred years—from his observance of the rites of the patriarchal religion-from his reference to no other species of idolatry as prevailing in his time, than that of the worship of the heavenly bodies and from his total silence with respect to the miracles wrought for the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt.
He probably resided in Arabia, and was descended either from Abraham by Keturah, or from Uz, the son of Nahor, Abraham's brother.
This history gives us much information with respect to Divine Providence; warns us against uncharitably censuring our brethren, or judging of their piety by outward circumstances; presents the strongest consolations to the afflicted, the tempted, and the oppressed; and teaches us the benefit and duty of relying upon God even in the most disastrous circumstances.
There is no class of men that may not be benefited by an attentive examination of the history of Job. Let the prosperous behold him in his elevated station, that they may learn not to be seduced by the enjoyments which surround them. Let the afflicted consider him in the depth of his misery, that they