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from the moment they appeared before him, knew them, though they had forgotten him. He contrived to detain them, by first speaking to them roughly, as though they were spies; and then sending the whole home except one of them, whom he kept as an hostage, with corn for their house. Having (as if he himself was ignorant who they were, and from whence they came,) contrived to get his younger brother down; and now at this second coming into Egypt, he did as the Scripture above relates, he made himself known unto his brethren, and called forth their wonder, fear and dismay, which is expressed, when it is said, "they were troubled," (or as the margin renders it,) terrified at his presence. The whole is related in that beautiful simplicity, by the sacred historian, as is impossible to read, but with the most sensible emotions. I cannot however in a work of this kind, venture to enlarge; and therefore refer the reader to the Scripture itself. (Gen. xlii. xliii. and xliv.)
Before I enter upon the more immediate subject proposed in this number, of the interview of Joseph with his brethren, I beg to offer an observation or two upon that part which I have merely glanced at, by way of introduction. In the first place, in the view of Joseph's knowledge of his brethren, while they were altogether unconscious of him; we may gather a very sweet spiritual instruction, and of the most consolatory nature. How little doth the child of God apprehend who it is that he hath to deal with, when under a sense of spiritual famine of soul, he is seeking the bread of life for himself and household. How little is he sensible, that although he knows not Jesus, yet Jesus knows him!
While the leadings of the Lord are upon him; and like the sons of Jacob, he finds himself constrained to seek the bread of life, that perisheth not with using,
how exactly is his case like theirs; in that he knows not in this Governor over all, he hath a brother born for adversity, and one that makes his case his own! And while to his view the Lord apparently, as Joseph did to his brethren, is making himself strange, and speaking roughly to him; the whole of his dispensations are full of grace; and love is in all he saith, and all he doth towards him. The redeemed and regenerated child of God, will do well never to lose sight of this, in all his drawings nigh to the mercy-seat. He that is in the midst of the throne, is of one mind, and none can change him. However outward providences may seem to frown; an everlasting sunshine is on the Lord's countenance. The clouds which sometimes obscure the bright shining of the day, do indeed affect the earth below, but to angels which dwell above, nothing can create gloom in their atmosphere.
And let me add a second observation from the incidents already glanced at in this history of Joseph and his brethren. When we hear them uttering their convictions of guilt when in private, concerning their cruel treatment of their brother, (Gen. xlii. 21.) we learn, how graciously the Lord deals with sinners, in awakening the remembrances of guilt in their consciences. And this is what the Lord Jesus, in after ages, more openly explained of the work of God the Holy Ghost: "He shall reprove the world (said Christ,) of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." (John xvi. 8.) And when by harrowing up the fallow ground of the sinner's heart, the Lord the Spirit hath prepared for the spiritual seed; then how blessed is it when the Lord brings health to the soul, in shewing the efficacy of "the blood of Jesus Christ, which cleanseth from all sin!" (John i. 7.)
From these views we have taken of the history of the patriarch before his making himself known unto
his brethren; we shall now I hope be the better pre-. pared to enter upon that most interesting relation given us in the Scripture, in which it is said: "Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go 'out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren."
The first beautiful incident which strikes the mind in this relation, is the mind of the patriarch, wound up to such a state of feeling, as overwhelmed him in a manner perfectly irresistible. His brother Judah, who pleaded before him for the liberation of Benjamin, so touched all the finer feelings of Joseph's heart, that in the contemplation of Joseph's father, hastening to the close of life, and worn down with age and infirmities, the bowels of Joseph yearned over the view. Judah had most pathetically called it forth, and Joseph could no longer refrain. And the first vent he had power to give to his bosom, full of contending passions, was the cry: "Cause every man to go out from me." Not that it would have been unseemly in the governor of Egypt, to be found in tears at such an event as the discovery of his brethren. Tears are graceful, when the subject which excites them are graceful. But Joseph sent away all that were among the strangers or servants of his household. They could not enter into his feelings, or take part in what belonged only to the interests of his family. And beside these things, Joseph knew what would be the immediate effect on the minds of his brethren, when the secret was made known to them that he was their brother. Unwilling therefore that they should be put to confusion, or be interrupted by uninteresting lookers on; he first commanded the strangers and servants to depart, before he unbosomed himself to tell them who he was; and how much, notwithstanding their past conduct, he loved them.
Language fails to furnish any suitable and affecting apprehensions of what such a scene must have produced in the discovery of Joseph to his brethren: when he said, "I am Joseph!" and when he instantly added to it; "doth my father yet live?" The transition from himself to his father, and the affectionate child-like enquiry he made concerning his father, is among the most finished examples of pathetic feeling. He did not ask the question for information; for they had before told him (when in the former conversation he had with them, he had asked for their father, and the welfare of their house,) that he was in good health, (Gen. xliii. 27.) but it was that kind of asking a question already answered, to shew the delight he took in dwelling upon it. And the weeping aloud, which accompanied the declaration of himself who he was, and of the love he had to his father, until the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard, and were informed of the pleasing relation; all these would open to some very interesting subjects, that if greater and more highly important were not before us in the view of this transaction, we might not unprofitably dwell upon. But when we have turned from the consideration of these things, there is one sweet and gracious improvement, and of a spiritual kind, which as much transcends those scenes of natural affection as the heavens are higher than the earth.
Perhaps the reader may himself, from his own spiritual apprehensions, (if so be he hath been taught of God,) judge what I mean; and if not, he will confess that the thing itself is so superlatively blessed above every other discovery, when I relate it to him, that this of Joseph making himself known to his brethren, sinks to nothing in comparison thereof. Let the reader thus figure to himself the Lord Jesus Christ, making himself known to his brethren, or to any, and every one of his brethren, after their long hatred of
God by sin; and being enemies to God by wicked works. Who shall describe the wonderful discovery when first day-light dawns in upon the sinner's soul; and he gets even but a glimpse of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the saviour of sinners? Oh! who shall take upon him to describe what passeth at that moment in the sinner's heart, in the thousand and ten thousand instances of it, which have been from age to age, and still continues to be; and will continue till time shall be no more, when the Lord Jesus Christ makes himself known to his redeemed ones; and saith," I am your brother!"
Let us not pass away from this interesting scene, so full as it is of spiritual improvement, without taking one short glimpse more of it. Did Joseph before the discovery of himself to his brethren, command every other person of those uninterested in the event to go out from him? And do we not see in this, the portrait of Him, who suffers none to know what passeth between him, and the souls of his redeemed, when he "manifests himself to them, otherwise than he doth to the world?" And when Jesus gives that bread in secret, which none knoweth, saving him that receiveth it," (Rev. ii. 17.) speak, ye humble souls, who have known, and can testify to those truths of God, in your hearts. Say, when the Lord Jesus comes to you in the word of his grace, melts your cold minds, and warms your frozen affections; takes away the heart of stone, and gives you hearts of flesh: who looks on, and knows the sweet and blessed transactions? The man of Uz hath expressed these precious secrets of the soul, under a similitude most beautiful and striking, when he saith, "There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen. The lion's whelps have not trodden it; nor the fierce lion passed by it." (Job xxviii. 7, 8.) And how unknown is that path of the Lord, in which he makes himself known to his