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they mention the coat which had marked his partiality for his favourite son.

The deception succeeded; for Jacob too well knew the bloody garment, and said, “ It is my son's coat, an evil beast hath devoured him

; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces." Reuben remained silent. He dared not to report the real fact. Perhaps he feared the resentment of his brothers, or the anger of his father that he had not prevented their cruelty: he probably thought that Joseph now could never be recovered again, and therefore he held his peace.

Their aged father mourned long and deeply : with consummate hypocrisy his sons, as well as his daughters, rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted, and thought and said that he would go down to the grave mourning for his son. Thus Joseph was carried down into Egypt, and there sold to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of his guard.

What an extraordinary commencement was this of the fulfilment of his dreams! We who are now acquainted with the whole of

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the history, can see that this was preparing for his advancement; but who could then have thought that the Lord meant to promote him to honour? And so in our own cases ; when the time shall have arrived, at which we can look back upon the various steps by which we have been led, and the different dispensations through which we have passed, then we shall see how wisdom and mercy have ordered all our circumstances, and have effected the best possible end by the best possible means.

But the machinery of Providence is complicated, and much of it is concealed from our view. There are wheels within wheels, as represented in Ezekiel's vision, of which we often cannot discern the working, nor even understand why they are there. Persons and circumstances of various kinds, often apparently unconnected, or even contradictory, are united together to do that one work which God has appointed to be done. Here are the malignant passions of Joseph's brethren conspiring against his life ; here are Ishmaelite merchants journeying to Egypt ready to traffic in any thing, even in human life, that shall bring them gain ; here is a chief man of the king of Egypt purchasing a slave; all are fulfilling a secret counsel of the Lord, most of them without ever having had the smallest intimation of it, and not knowing at all, or thinking of, what they were doing, and others even endeavouring to oppose and prevent it. These persons and circumstances are so many instruments and means in his hands, by which he is doing his pleasure. It is done in a wondrous way indeed; but God's thoughts are not our thoughts nor his ways our ways. Very commonly also he trains up those whom he intends for great purposes by means of great trials. He places them in circumstances which shall not only develope their characters, but which shall previously form them, and produce those mental or corporeal powers, and those peculiar dispositions and qualities, which are necessary for the exigencies in which they will afterwards have to act. Early afflictions are a usual mode by which he chastens and disciplines those whom he loves. In that school they learn humility, patience, trust, and obedience, and gain a deep experience of divine things, that they may be fitted for the important objects which God has in view to be afterwards effected by them.

Let those young people who are desirous of living in a religious manner, attend to the opening of this history. Joseph was a pious character in his early days, and you will find nothing to come but what will prove him to be such. Yet hitherto all is pain and trouble. He has indeed the affections of his father, but he is an object of dislike to his brothers. They hate him and cannot speak peaceably to him. His time passes among them in continual opposition and reproach, and at last they sell him into a distant country for a slave. It may be that you have similar foes in your own house, and even that your religion is that which sets them against you, and provokes their hatred and scorn. Behold, no strange thing has happened to you, and you must not wonder or complain. It is a trial, and doubtless God has some purpose of mercy in it. Probably it may not be his purpose to exalt you in this life, as he did Joseph, but to improve and raise your religious character, to give you more decision and firmness, to exercise you at the same time in meekness and patience, to wean you from the world, to teach you to pray the more and to live more nearly to him, and to seek your happiness and portion in his love. Whatever be your trials you should endeavour to improve them to your progress in holiness, and to an advancement in every christian grace. Study this history of Joseph, and see how God dealt with him. Such studies will tend to establish your hearts, and enable you to bear those provocations, under which young persons are sometimes apt to be impatient and fretful. And be assured that there are no discouragements so great, no opposition so strong, but that God can bring you through them all ; and that there is no day so dark, but his sun can dissipate the clouds, nor any sorrow so great, but he can change it into joy.

Whatever lessons of this kind may be

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