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part of the blame to him, “The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me.” We are not surprised that Potiphar should give credit to her tale. Appearances were against Joseph, and he was not likely to suppose that his wife was so abandoned as she in reality was. Therefore, in the heat of his anger, he threw him into prison, and there had him heavily ironed, for the Psalmist writes of him, “Whose feet they hurt with fetters ; he was laid in iron.”
What a change again was here! How the dispensations of providence vary! Who can possibly read them, until the event shall discover their object! No man can tell either the love or hatred of God by the mere temporal circumstances that are happening to him; and unwise indeed would he be, and unskilled in the ways of God, who should ascribe afflictions to his wrath, or prosperity to his favour. To Joseph himself, no doubt, this trial of his faith would be great. His deep regard for God had brought him into that trouble : had he consented to sin, he had not been cast into the dungeon. But doubtless he felt fully assured that he had chosen the good part, and was happy in the thought that, though he was suffering, he had not sinned. He could trust himself, with all his circumstances, and even his life, to the care of God. He could enjoy his communion with his heavenly father in secret, was happy in the possession of a good conscience, and could confidently hope that God would deliver him, in such manner and time as he saw fit, from his present distress, and bring forth his righteousness as the light, and his just dealing as the noon day.
Let none of us break any of the commandments through fear of any suffering to which it may bring us. Though imprisonment, or stripes, or racks, or loss of worldly goods, or of life itself, may be before us, let us suffer them all rather than sin against God, and thereby bring guilt and his wrath upon our souls. Let us make it our uniform care to adhere to God and his service, to set him always before us, to honour his holy name and his word, whoever or whatever may tempt us to the contrary, without being afraid
of consequences. That was a noble answer which Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego gave to the King Nebuchadnezzar, when he threatened to have them all thrown into the midst of a burning fiery furnace, unless they would fall down and worship the golden image which he had set up. a temptation to sin through fear. · They answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Their hearts were fixed : they had no doubt or hesitation as to the choice which they should make: the answer which they should give did not require the smallest consideration. Should the king determine to cast them in, their God could deliver them, and he would if he pleased. But whether he pleased to deliver them or not, their part was equally chosen : they would not worship the golden image. To this effect the Apostle Peter admonishes, “ Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled ; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.” Similar is the language of the prophet Isaiah, " Neither fear
their fear nor be afraid ; sanctify the Lord God himself ; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” The words of the Son of God himself cannot but here present themselves to our minds. ro Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, who after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him.” Remember also the heroic spirit of St. Paul, “Behold I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things which shall befall me there : save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which
I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.” Let it be our steadfast determination, in every sensual temptation and threatened danger, to “hold fast faith and a good conscience," and " if any man suffer as a christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf,” and “commit the keeping of his soul to God in well doing as unto a faithful creator."
I do not intend to add any further cautions against the particular sin, or further exhortations to the maintenance of the particular virtue, which appear the most prominently in this part of the history of Joseph. But I would conclude with a parting admonition to you against the commission of every kind of sin whatever, to which you may be tempted; and there is none to which the text would not very emphatically apply, “ How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God ?”
As Joseph expostulated thus with his mistress in that particular case, so might we expostulate with you respecting any offence.