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adversity which he had suffered to the perverse treatment of his brothers; and all the prosperity which he afterwards attained, to his own good conduct and wisdom; and by consequence would have remained embittered against the instruments of the one, and filled with pride and self-sufficiency on account of the other. But the elevated and noble mind of Joseph rejected such unworthy sentiments. Contemplating the hand of God in all that had befallen him, he effaced the remembrance of those evil deeds which had produced his adversity; and for his prosperity he affected no praise to himself, but ascribed it entirely to the will of Heaven. Let us take notice, that this is not the reflection of a private retired man, whose situation might be suppossd to favour such devout meditations: it is the reflection of one, who was leading a busy and a seducing life, in the midst of a court; the favourite of the greatest monarch who was then known in the world. Yet him you behold, amidst the submission and adulation which was paid to him, preserving the moderation and simplicity of a virtuous mind; and amidst the idolatry and false philosophy of the Egyptians, maintaining the principles of true religion, and giving glory to the God of Israel.
From this unity of piety with humanity, which is so conspicuous in the sentiments of Joseph, there arises one very important instruction; that a devout regard to the hand of God in the various events of life, tends to promote good dispositions and affections towards men. It will be found by those who attend to the workings of human nature; that a great proportion of those malignant passions which break out in the intercourse of men, arises from confining
their attention wholly to second causes, and overlooking the first cause of all. Hence they are insolent in prosperity, because they discern nothing higher than their own abilities; and in adversity they are peevish and unforgiving, because they have no object on which to fix their view, but the conduct of men who have acted as their enemies. They behold no plan of wisdom or goodness carried on throughout nature, which can allay the discomposure of their mind. As soon as their temper is ruffled, the world appears to them to be a continued scene of disasters and injuries, of confused events, and of unreasonable men. Whereas to the pious man, the contemplation of the universe exhibits a very different spectacle. In the midst of seeming confusion he traces a principle of order; and by attention to that order, his mind is harmonized and calmed. He beholds a wise and righteous Governor presiding over all the commotions which are raised by the tumult of conflicting passions and interests; guiding, with imperceptible influence, the hand of the violent to beneficent purposes: accomplishing unexpected ends by the most improbable means; obliging the wrath of man to praise him; sometimes humbling the mighty, sometimes exalting the low; often snaring the wicked in the devices which their hands have wrought. Respectful acknowledgment of this divine government, controls the disorders of inferiour passions. Reverence for the decrees of Heaven inspires patience and moderation. Trust in that perfeet wisdom and goodness which directs all for the best, diminishes the shock which worldly disasters occasion. The irritation of passion and resentment will always bear proportion to the agitation which
we suffer from the changes of fortune. One who connects himself with nothing but second causes, partakes of the violence and irregularity of all the inferiour movements belonging to this great machine. He who refers all to God, dwells, if we may speak so, in that higher sphere where motion begins; he is subject to fewer shocks and concussions, and is only carried along by the motion of the universe.
How can mildness or forgiveness gain place in the temper of that man, who, on occasion of every calamity which he suffers from the ill-usage of others, has no sanctuary within his own breast to which he can make retreat from their vexations; who is possessed of no principle which is of sufficient power to bear down the rising tide of peevish and angry passions? The violence of an enemy, or the ingratitude of a friend, the injustice of one man, and the treachery of another, perpetually dwell and rankle in his thoughts. The part which they have acted in bringing on his distress, is frequently more grating to him than the distress itself. Whereas he who in every event looks up to God, has always in his view a great and elevating object which inspires him with magnanimity. His mind lies open to every relieving thought, and is inclined to every suggestion of generosity. He is disposed to say with Joseph, it was not you that sent me hither, but God; with David, it is the Lord; let him do what seemeth good in his eyes; and, with a greater personage than either of these, the cup which my Father hath given me to drink, shall I not drink it? Hence arises superiority to many of the ordinary provocations of the world. For he looks upon the whole of his present life as part of a great plan which is carried on under the direction of
Heaven. In this plan he views men as acting their several parts, and contributing to his good or evil. But their parts he considers as subordinate ones; which, though they may justly merit his affection, and may occasionally call forth his resentment, yet afford no proper foundation to violent or malignant passion. He looks upon bad men as only the rod with which the Almighty chastens ; like the pestilence, the earthquake, or the storm. In the midst of their injustice and violence he can pity their blindness; and imitate our blessed Lord in praying, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
On the CHARACTER of HAZAEL.
2 KINGS, viii. 12, 13.
And Hazael said, Why weepeth my Lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel. Their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child. And Hazael said, But, what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The Lord hath shewed me that thou shalt be king over Syria.
IN N the days of Joram, king of Israel, flourished the prophet Elisha. His character was so eminent, and his fame so widely spread, that Benhadad the king of Syria, though an idolater, sent to consult him concerning the issue of a distemper which threatened his life. The messenger employed on this occasion was Hazael, who appears to have been one of the princes, or chief men, of the Syrian court. Charged with rich gifts from the king, he presents himself before the Prophet, and accosts him in terms of the highest respect. During the conference which they held together, Elisha fixed his eye stedfastly on the countenance of Hazael; and discerning, by a prophetic spirit, his future tyranny and cruelty, he could not contain himself from bursting into a flood of tears.