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“ work of that one and the self-same Spirit.” In conducting the inquiry, I took two leading criterions, whereby to judge of the character of Joseph, namely“ the love of God,” and “ the love of man ;” and I considered them as exemplified in the conduct of that holy Patriarch, respectively branching on the one hand into piety, faith, resignation, gratitude, and obedience, and on the other into filial duty, brotherly affection, fidelity as a servant and a subject, and benevolence as one intrusted with
power, The possession of these qualities may
be a rule for ourselves, as was incidentally remarked in the conclusion of that discourse; and as we infer the Spirit of God to hạve been in Joseph from a consideration of those fruits of the Spirit, which he manifested, so we may infer that the same Spirit is in us, when he produces in us the same fruits. Taking then the remarks, which I made on the character of Joseph, as the guide for those which are to follow, I propose with the blessing of God to devote the present discourse to an application of the principles already laid down to our own spiritual state.
I. And first, as to “ the love of God,” which, as it is the subject of " the first and great commandment,” so also should be the first and great spring of all our actions. This was the leading criterion whereby we estimated the character of Joseph; let us take it for the leading criterion of our own characters.
1. In him the love of God produced a pious disposition to promote “ the glory of God.” Does the same pious disposition afford us reason to hope that we are actuated by the same love? Whatever good qualities we may possess, whether of the understanding or of the heart; whatever evil dispositions we may be able to subdue; whatever sins we may refrain from, whatever virtues we may practise; are we willing and ready to profess, that our light and our strength and our holiness, our ability and disposition to “ eschew evil and to do good,” are of the grace of God; that whatever we can do, it is only “ through Christ, which strengtheneth us”;” that as
a Phil. iv, 13.
it is not in us, of our own natural weakness, to be wise, or good, or happy, so it is unto God through Christ Jesus that we are indebted, for “our wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption";” so that “whereinsoever we glory, we may glory in the Lord“?” The Apostle teaches us to carry this principle into the most ordinary occurrences, into the most necessary and indispensable business of life. “ Whether ye eat or drink,” saith he,
or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God".” Do we adopt the principle in its full extent, and in its universal application ? and labour so to conduct ourselves in the more trivial and familiar, as well as in the more important and public transactions that we are engaged in, not in order to promote our own honour or interest, , but “ that men may see our good works, and” being led to regard them as proceeding from the love of God, may “ glorify our heavenly Father,” who hath graciously enabled and disposed us to perform them?
(1 Cor. i. 31.
d 1 Cor. x. 31.
bi Cor. i. 30. e Matt. v. 16.
2. Again : the love of God was manifested in Joseph by a belief in his superintending and directing Providence. Do we like him believe, that “ God meaneth all the evil,” that is thought or wrought against us, “ for good," and that he will ultimately cause “ all things to work together for good to them who love him ?” It is not probable that our faith will be put to those severe trials, by which almighty God saw fit to exercise the faith of Joseph. Torn from his native country, from the arms of an affectionate and only surviving parent, of whose declining years he was the support and the comfort ; betrayed by his brethren, the children of his father; sold as a slave into a foreign country; and there persecuted, slandered, and imprisoned: he “ held fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end":" he knew that it was “ the word of the Lord which tried him.' Under trials much less severe than these, trials which do not exceed the ordinary portion of man, many of them probably the consequences of our
i Heb. iii. 6.
Psalm cv. 19.
sinful lusts, and many probably brought upon us and continued by our own perverse tempers, is our faith unshaken in the goodness and providence of God ? Knowing that “ we have access by faith in Jesus Christ into this grace wherein we stand,” do we not only “ rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” but “ glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience?" It is an essential part of religion, not only to “ believe in God that he is;" but also to believe, that he judgeth and ruleth the world in righteousness, that he can bring good out of evil, that he can and does make all things, yea even the evil designs and actions of wicked men, work together for the good of his faithful people. Is this our belief? are we assured, under all the trials that exercise us, under all the evil that befalleth us, that 5. God meaneth it for good ?”
3. Again; the “ faith” of Joseph was “ made perfect” by his resignation : he believed in God, as the all-wise Disposer of
h Rom. v. 2.