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to our observation. It was a momentous choice: it was a decision of great consequence: and it was accord. ingly, on our Lord's part, preceded by prayer; not only so, but by a night spent in prayer. “He continued all night in prayer to God;" or, if you would rather so render it, in a house, set apart for prayer to God. Here, therefore, we have an example given us, which we both can imitate, and ought to imitate. Nothing of singular importance; nothing of extraordinary moment, either to ourselves or others, ought to be resolved upon, or undertaken, without prayer to God, without previous devotion. It is a natural operation of piety to carry the mind to God, whenever any thing presses and weighs upon it: they, who feel not this tendency, have reason to accuse and suspect themselves of want of piety. Moreover, we have, first, the direct example of our Lord himself; I believe also, I may add, that we have the example and practice of good men, in all ages of the world.
. Again: We find our Lord resorting to prayer in his last extremity, and with an earnestness, I had almost said, a vehemence of devotion, proportioned to the oc. casion. The terms, in which the evangelists describe our Lord's devotion in the garden of Gethsemene, the evening preceding his death, are the strongest terms that could be used. As soon as he came to the place, he bid his disciples pray. When he was at the place, he said unto them, “ Pray that ye enter not into temptation.” This did not content him: this was not enough for the state and sufferings of his mind. He parted even from them. He withdrew about a stone's cast, and kneeled down. Hear how his struggle in prayer is described. Tlıree times he came to his disciples, and returned again to prayer; thrice he kneeled down, at a distance from them, repeating the same words. Being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly: drops of sweat fell from his body, as if it had been great drops of blood; yet in all this, throughout the whole scene, the constant conclusion of his prayer was, “ not my will, but thine be done." It was the greatest occasion that ever was: and the earnestness of our Lord's prayer, the devotion of his soul, corresponded with it. Scenes of deep distress await us all. It is in vain to expect to pass through the world, without falling into them. We have, in our Lord's exam. ple, a model for our behaviour, in the most severe and most trying of these occasions: afflicted, yet resigned; grieved and wounded, yet submissive; not insensible of our sufferings, but increasing the ardor and fervency of our prayer, in proportion to the pain and acuteness of our feelings.
But whatever may be the fortune of our lives, one great extremity, at least, the hour of approaching death, is certainly to be passed through. What ought then to occupy us? what can then support us? Prayer. Prayer, with our blessed Lord himself, was a refuge from the storm; almost every word he uttered, during that tremendous scene, was prayer: prayer the most earnest, the most urgent; repeated, continued, proceeding from the recesses of his soul; private, solitary: prayer for deliverance; prayer for strength; above every thing, prayer for resignation.
ON FILIAL PIETY.
GENESIS, xlvii. 12.
“ And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families.” WHOEVER reads the Bible at all, has read the history of Joseph. It has universally attracted attention: and, without doubt, there is not one, but many points in it, which deserve to be noticed. It is a strong and plain example of the circuitous providence of God: that is to say, of his bringing about the ends and purposes of his providence, by seemingly casual and unsuspected means. That is a high doctrine, both of natural and revealed religion; and is clearly exempiified in this history. It is an useful example, at the same time, of the protection and final reward of virtue, though for a season oppressed and calumniated, or carried through a long series of distresses and misfortunes. I say, it is an useful example, if duly understood, and not urged too far. It shows the protection of providence to be with virtue under all its difficulties: and this being believed upon good grounds, it is enough; for the virtuous man will be assured, that this protection will keep with him in and through all stages of his existence- living and dying he is in his hands--and for the same reason that it accompanies him, like an invisible guardian, through his trials, it will finally recompense him. This is the true application of that doctrine of a directing providence, which is illustrated by the history of Joseph, as it relates to ourselves-I mean as it relates to those, who are looking forward to a future state. If we draw from it an opinion, or an expectation, that, because Joseph was at length re. warded with riches and honours, therefore we shall be the same, we carry the example further than it will bear. It proves that virtue is under the protection of God, and will ultimately be taken care of and rewar. ded: but in what manner, and in what stage of our existence, whether in the present or the future, or in both, is left open by the example: and both may, and must depend, upon reasons, in a great measure, unknown to and incalculable by us.
Again: The history of Joseph is a domestic example. It is an example of the ruinous consequences of partiality, in a parent, and of the quarrels and contentions in a family, which naturally spring from such partiality.
Again: It is a lesson to all schemers and confederates in guilt, to teach them this truth, that, when their scheme does not succeed, they are sure to quarrel amongst themselves, and to go into the utmost bitter
ness of mutual accusation and reproach; as the brethren of Joseph, you find, did.
i. Again: It is a natural example of the effect of ad'. versity, in bringing men to themselves, to reflections upon their own conduct, to a sense and perception of many things, which had gone on, and might have gone on, unthought of and unperceived, if it had not been for some stroke of misfortune, which roused their attention. It was after the brethren of Joseph had been shut up by him in prison, and were alarmed, as they well might be, for their lives, that their consciences, so far as appears, for the first time, smote them: “We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and would not hear.” This is the natural and true effect of judgments in this world, to bring us to a knowledge of ourselves: that is to say, of those bad things in our lives, which have deserved the calamities, we are made to suffer.
These are all points in the history: but there is another point in Joseph's character, which I make choice of, as the subject of my present discourse; and that is, his dutifulness and affection to his father, Never was this virtue more strongly displayed. It runs, like a thread, through the whole narrative; and whether we regard it, as a quality to be admired, or, which would be a great deal better, as a quality to be imitated by us, so far as a great disparity of circumstances will allow of imitation, (which in principle it always