« AnteriorContinuar »
crowd in the midst of which they now dwell, they shall be permitted to mingle with prophets, patriarchs, and apostles, with all those great and illustrious spirits, who have shone in former ages as the servants of God, or the benefactors of men; whose deeds we are accustomed to celebrate; whose steps we now follow at a distance; and whose names we pronounce with venera
United to this high assembly, the blessed, at the same time, renew those ancient connexions with virtuous friends, which had been dissolved by death. The prospect of this awakens in the heart, the most pleasing and tender sentiment that perhaps can fill it, in this mortal state. For of all the sorrows which we are here doomed to endure, none is so bitter as that occasioned by the fatal stroke which separates us, in appearance for ever, from those to whom either nature or friendship had intimately joined our hearts. Memory, from time to time, renews the anguish; opens the wounds which seemed once to have been closed; and by recalling joys that are past and gone, touches every spring of painful sensibility. In these agonizing moments, how relieving the thought, that the separation is only temporary, not eternal; that there is a time to come of re-union with those with whom our happiest days were spent: whose joys and sorrows once were ours; whose piety and virtue cheered and encouraged us; and from whom after we shall have landed on the peaceful shore where they dwell, no revolutions of nature shall ever be able to part us more! Such is the society of the blessed above. Of such are the multitude composed, who, "stand before the
The clemency and amiable character of the patriarch JOSEPH.
No human character exhibited in the records of Scripture, is more remarkable and instructive than that of the patriarch Joseph. He is one whom we behold tried in all the vicissitudes of fortune: from the condition of a slave, rising to be ruler of the land of Egypt; and in every station acquiring, by his virtue and wisdom, favour with God and man. When overseer of Potiphar's house, his fidelity was proved by strong temptations, which he honourably resisted. When thrown into prison by the artifices of a false woman, his integrity and prudence soon rendered him conspicuous, even in that dark mansion. When called into the presence of Pharoah, the wise and extensive plan which he formed, for saving the kingdom from the miseries of impending famine, justly raised him to a high station, wherein his abilities were eminently displayed in the public service. But in his whole history, there is no circumstance so striking and interesting, as his beha viour to his brethren who had sold him into slavery. The moment in which he made himself known to them, was the most critical one of his life, and the most deci. sive of his character. It is such as rarely occurs in the course of human events; and is calculated to draw the highest attention of all who are endowed with any degree of sensibility of heart.
From the whole tenour of the narration, it appears, that though Joseph, upon the arrival of his brethren in Egypt, made himself strange to them, yet from the beginning he intended to discover himself, and studied so to conduct the discovery, as might render the surprise of joy complete. For this end, by affected severity, he took measures for bringing down into Egypt all his
father's children. They were now arrived there; and Benjamin among the rest, who was his younger brother by the same mother, and was particularly beloved by Joseph. Him he threatened to detain; and seemed willing to allow the rest to depart. This incident renewed their distress. They all knew their father's extreme anxiety about the safety of Benjamin, and with what difficulty he had yielded to his undertaking this journey. Should he be prevented from returning, they dreaded that grief would overpower the old man's spirits, and prove fatal to his life. Judah, therefore, who had particularly urged the necessity of Benjamin's accompanying his brothers, and had solemnly pledged himself to their father for his safe return, craved, upon this occasion, an audience of the governor; and gave him a full account of the circumstances of Jacob's family.
Nothing can be more interesting and pathetic than this discourse of Judah. Little knowing to whom he spoke, he paints in all the colours of simple and natural eloquence, the distressed situation of the aged patriarch, hastening to the close of life; long afflicted for the loss of a favourite son, whom he supposed to have been torn in pieces by a beast of prey; labouring now under anxious concern about his youngest son, the child of his old age, who alone was left alive of his mother, and whom nothing but the calamities of severe famine could have moved a tender father to send from home, and expose to the dangers of a foreign land. "If we bring him not back with us, we shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant, our father, with sorrow to the I grave. pray thy sèrvant abide, instead of the young man, a bondman to our lord. For how shall I go up to my father, and Benjamin not with me? lest I see the evil that shall come on my father."
thee therefore let
Upon this relation Joseph could no longer restrain himself. The tender ideas of his father, and his father's
house, of his ancient home, his country, and his kin dred, of the distress of his family, and his own exaltation, all rushed too strongly upon his mind to bear any farther concealment. "He cried, Cause every man to go out from me; and he wept aloud." The tears which he shed were not the tears of grief. They were the burst of affection. They were the effusions of a heart overflowing with all the tender sensibilities of nature. Formerly he had been moved in the same manner, when he first saw his brethren before him. "His bowels yearned upon them; he sought for a place where to weep. He went into his chamber; and then washed his face and returned to them." At that period, his generous plans were not completed. But now, when there was no farther occasion for constraining himself, he gave free vent to the strong emotions of his heart. The first minister to the king of Egypt was not ashamed to show, that he felt as a man, and a brother. " He wept aloud; and the Egyptians, and the house of Pharoah, heard him.”
The first words which his swelling heart allowed him to pronounce, are the most suitable to such an af fecting situation, that were ever uttered;" I am Joseph; doth my father yet live?"What could he, what ought he in that impassioned moment, to have said more? This is the voice of nature herself, speak ing her own language; and it penetrates the heart : no pomp of expression; expression; no parade of kindness; but strong affection hastening to utter what is strongly felt. "His brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence." Their silence is as expres sive of those emotions of repentance and shame, which, on this amazing discovery, filled their breast and stopped their utterance, as the few words which Joseph speaks, are expressive of the generous agitations which struggled for vent within him. No painter could seize a more striking moment for displaying the characteristical features of the human heart, than what is here
presented. Never was there a situation of more tender and virtuous joy, on the one hand; nor, on the other, of more overwhelming confusion and conscious guilt. In the simple narration of the sacred historian, it is set before us with greater energy and higher effect, than if it had been wrought up with all the colouring of the most admired modern eloquence.
The following account of an affecting, mournful exit, is related by Dr. Young, who was present at the melancholy scene.
THE sad evening before the death of the noble youth, whose last hours suggested the most solemn and awful reflections, I was with him. No one was present, but his physician, and an intimate whom he loved, and whom he had ruined. At my coming in, he said, "You and the physician are come too late. I have neither life nor hope. You both aim at miracles. You would raise the dead !" Heaven, I said, was merciful-"Or," exclaimed he,- "I could not have been thus guilty. What has it not done to bless, and to save me! I have been too strong for Omnipotence! I have plucked down ruin.-I said, the blessed Redeemer,"Hold! Hold! you wound me! That is the rock on which I split-I denied his name!"
Refusing to hear any thing from me, or take any thing from the physician, he lay silent, as far as sud den darts of pain would permit, till the clock struck: Then with vehemence he exclaimed; "Oh! time! time! it is fit thou shouldst thus strike thy murderer to the heart!-How art thou fled for ever?-A month! Oh, for a single week! I ask not for years! though an