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allowed. He said thus, “What shall we say unto my Lord ? what shall we speak ? or how shall we clear ourselves ? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants : behold we are my Lord's servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.” What iniquity was in the mind of Judah when he uttered these words ? We cannot think that he believed that Benjamin had really been guilty of the theft. He probably suspected that this was a plot contrived for their ruin; but he dared not to say so. We may well suppose that he referred to that former iniquity of theirs which had before been brought so forcibly on their consciences; and we may conceive that Joseph also would know that that was the crime of which he was thinking, having overheard him express the same sentiment before, and would sympathize with him in all the painful emotions which he felt.
But Joseph professed to require no more than a just and deserved punishment ; he did not desire that the innocent should suffer with the guilty, and therefore he said, “ God
forbid that I should do so;" that is, make them all his bondmen, “but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up
peace unto your father.” Now Judah saw the opening of a door of hope, since only one was to suffer, a way appeared by which perhaps he might be able to obtain liberty for Benjamin. He therefore requested permission to speak, and proceeded to make one of the most pathetic pleadings which is any where to be found. His natural feelings taught him the summit of the art of persuasion, and enabled him to bring forward every argument which might move the judge to pity, and induce him to grant his request. He began by endeavouring to conciliate him by the most respectful words. Then he reminded him that he had himself required that Benjamin should be brought into Egypt; that they had represented to him that their aged father was so attached to that particular child that he could not bear to part with him; and that Joseph had peremptorily insisted that they should fetch him, as the only way by which
they could clear themselves in his mind of being spies. He informed him next of the grief which his father had felt when constrained to send him with them, and that nothing but extreme necessity had overcome his reluctance; he related in most affecting language the declaration of his father that if mischief should befal him, they would bring down his gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. He told him that if Benjamin did not return with them, his father would surely die, and they all would thus become the occasion of his most sorrowful death. Then he added that he had himself become surety for him to his father, and had engaged to bring him back in safety, or to bear the blame for ever. Finally he made this magnanimous and most affectionate proposal, that he himself would remain in bondage, in the stead of his brother, and that Benjamin should be allowed to return to his father, closing with a strong burst of filial feeling that he could not bear to go back and see the misery which his father would suffer, if Benjamin was not restored to him.
I have not time to expatiate on this very moving address of Judah, or on the noble offer with which he concluded. Neither can I enlarge upon a subject, which must also be recalled to our minds, namely, the love and pleadings, and actual substitution, of another and greater surety, who suffered for us, the just for the unjust, that he might obtain our deliverance from the sentence of the law and procure our return in peace to our father in heaven.
The effect of his address was far beyond what Judah bad anticipated. The judge appeared in strong emotion; he commanded all his Egyptian attendants to retire ; he wept aloud ; and with an abruptness that shewed that his feelings could be kept in no bounds, he cried, “ I am Joseph; doth my father yet live ?” expressing in one breath this most extraordinary discovery of himself to them, and his own delight to have learned from them that his aged father was still alive, an event so happy and gratifying to him that he scarcely knew how to believe it. What mingled feelings would this so unexpected discovery produce in the breasts of the brethren!
Fear and shame, hope and pleasure, would all be at work at once. Yet the former predominated. It is strikingly expressed in the sacred narrative, “ His brethren could not answer him, for they were troubled at his presence. But he hastened to dispel their
he bade them come nigh to him ; he soothed their spirits ; he opened a strong source of consolation, both as it assured them of his forgiveness, and prevented their sinking under fear and despondency before God, by leading their thoughts to the wondrous designs and management of Providence in this affair : “ Now therefore,” he said, “ be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither ; for God did send me before you to preserve life." And again, “ So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God : and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” He told them that they should go home, and inform his father of all his glory, and bring his father, and the whole family to him, that he might preserve them all during