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natural for him so to do, for he was nearer to him than the rest; and though as is plain from the records of the patriarch's family, Benjamin could have been but an infant when Joseph was driven from his home; and therefore all remembrance of his person must have been. lost; yet Benjamin was Joseph's own mother's son, and in him, he beheld her. The changes of raiment became no unapt representation of the spiritual raiment the Lord gives his people, when after the work of grace: wrought in their hearts, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; the Lord gives them "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy. for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." (Isa. Ixi. 3.)
"And they went up out of Egypt, and came unto the land of Canaan, unto Jacob their father.
"And told him saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.
"And Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not.
"And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them; and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had, sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived.
"And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die." (Gen. xlv. 25—28.)
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
If I invert the order of history in this part which is now before us, it is but with a view to raise a spiritual improvement from it. The sons of Jacob went up out of Egypt to the land of Canaan, to bring down their father from thence: but the wagons of ordinances the church of the Lord useth, is to carry the Lord's family from the Egypt of this world, to the heavenly
Canaan of our Father's house, which is above. True, indeed, like the patriarch, the first relation of the scriptural intelligence that our spiritual Joseph is the Lord of the country; and not only governor over all the land, but everlasting and eternal Lord of heaven and earth, appears too great to be believed; but when through sovereign grace, we are taught to believe the record God hath given of his dear Son; we then enter into a scriptural apprehension of the blessed truth; and "believing, we have life through his name."
The poor old Jacob, when first the news reached him of his son Joseph being yet alive, believed it not. He was rejoiced to see Simeon returned, and Benjamin returned; but that Joseph was yet in the land of the living, whom he had so long supposed to have been dead; and not only in the land of the living, but advanced to a state whereby as he now saw, he and his house had been kept from starving; and to whom he is now in his old age constrained to go; oh! what an exercise was here for faith. Similar to all these things, only in a more eminent degree, is the faith which is needful for the full enjoyment of the Lord, in relation to ourselves, when we are taught that all our sins are pardoned, and our persons fully, freely, and everlastingly accepted before God in the Lord Jesus Christ. And yet this, like the patriarch's belief is attainable, when the redeemed and regenerated child of God is brought to bottom all on what God hath said; and no longer to confer with the presumptuous reasoning of flesh and blood. It was this which made Abraham's faith so very memorable; and for which he stands forth a monument in the church of Christ, as the great father of the faithful to all generations. God promised him a son. There were many things in the way, which seemed to run counter to the accomplishment of this promise, as if God's designs should be thwarted. But all these operated nothing with
the patriarch. God had promised. That was enough. "He, against hope, believed in hope. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that what God had promised, he was also able to perform." (Rom. iv. 1. 8.) And without all doubt, God is most honoured in our simple dependance upon his word in Christ, when matters in ourselves are most dark and discouraging. Then it is, as if God should graciously say: Do you believe me? See then, if what I have said and promised, doth not assuredly come to pass.
We have a beautiful illustration of this, in the case of the poor widow of Zarephath, trusting the prophet Elijah, as the man of God, for a supply of food, when in a time of great dearth in the land. The story is related to us in all its beautiful simplicity, in the iid Kings, chap. xvii. to which I refer. I would only just observe upon it, that when (as the case is stated) she came forth from her humble cot, and met the prophet at the gate of the city, all the stock she had in the world, was an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruise; and she was going to gather a few sticks, that she might make a cake of it for herself and her son; and then eat it and die. But when the prophet, as the man of God, bid her fear not, but go and do as she had said; only to make him a cake first, and bring it to him; though he backed this order with the assurance, and in the name of the Lord; that neither the barrel of meal, nor the cruise of oil should fail, until the day that the Lord should send rain upon the earth; what an illustrious act of faith was here in this poor woman in believing it! Now the Lord hath not recorded this history for nothing. Certainly the whole is intended to say, that if this poor widow thus trusted the prophet for the sustenance of herself and household, against all the unpromising circumstances
with which she was then commanded to do it, what; infinite cause have the Lord's people to trust the Lord God of the prophets, through life and death, for time, and eternity."Though he slay me, (said Job,) yet, will I trust in him." (Job xiii. 15.)
Jacob's resolution, when satisfied what he saw was real, that he would go to Egypt, and see his son Joseph once more before his death, is as interesting a part. of the history as any. Nature is wound up as high as it can go. Neither his age, nor all the difficulties in the way, shall stop the father from gratifying his eyes on looking upon his son. It is enough, Israel said, Joseph my son is yet alive; I will go and see him before I die.
Who shall take upon him to describe all that passed in the patriarch's mind from the finer feelings both of nature and grace upon this occasion, when the father made this resolution of going to see his long-lost child before his death? No doubt numberless thoughts revolved in his mind, as the subject engaged his affection in the various ways in which it appeared to him. A life so checquered as Jacob's had been, from the first manifestations of divine love made to him at Bethel, to the almost now close of his pilgrimage; could not fail to have called forth a thousand images to his recollection, of what had passed in the course of his life, in sharp and trying exercises amidst continued tokens of divine love. "Few and evil, (as the patriarch afterward said to Pharoah,) have the days of the years of my life been." (Gen. xlvii. 9.) It is always blessed to connect the past and present of our warfare; when that past and that present brings with it so many tokens of Divine love as landmarks to the mariner to sail by. Faith not only by this finds great blessedness in the past; but derives great strength for the future. When the Holy Ghost, as the Remembrancer of Christ Jesus, turns back the leaves of our
past history, directs to this and that page to note, and shews the close of each chapter blessed by the Lord, as well in God's providence, as God's grace; the heart forms conclusions of encouragement from the whole; and in seeing how the Lord hath led us upon all former occasions, we take confidence that the same Lord will carry us on to the end. "Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." (Psalm xxiii. 6.) This eminently marked the life of Jacob. God's first promise to him at Bethel was to this amount, after having made known to him who he was as the Lord God of Abraham, and of Isaac: "Behold, said the Lord, I am with thee." And the Lord added; "and I will keep thee in all places whither thou goest." And still farther: " and I will bring thee again into this land." Neither was this all; " for (said the Lord,) I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." (Gen. xxviii. 10. throughout.) It is the privilege of all Jacob's spiritual seed to live in this assurance of faith, and to say with the apostle; "For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." (2 Tim. i. 12.)
"And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba; and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.
"And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night; and said Jacob! Jacob! and he said, Here am I.
"And he said, I am God, the God of thy father; fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation.
"I will go down with thee into Egypt, and I will also surely bring thee up again; and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes." (Gen. xlvi. 1—4.)