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this time his strength. was more exhausted, and he hastily adverted to another interesting subject—" Behold, I die, Joseph, but "1. have given to thee one portion, above "thy brethren, which I took out. the hand "of the Amorite, with my sword and with "my bow." This manner of distinguishing Joseph from the rest of- his brethren by a legacy,. which was particularly dear to the testator, and which, indeed, was an instance of his early skill in manly exercises, strongly speaks his fense of Joseph's generous behaviour in the day of necessity, while the famine was yet fore in the land. Those points being properly adjusted, the good man makes one effort more, and discharges the last. duty of a father, for, he calleth his other sons together,! to bless them. The verse which summons them, has a solemnity suited to the ocqasion,:..'?« Gather your"selves together, ye, sons of Jacob * and "hearken ye sons of Israel." When they are assembled, with what pomp of words, and inspiration of ideas, doth he address them! The ^advances of death seem. to have been lost, or, rather, Death himself was enamoured of his eloquence; he stood, as it were, suspended, and could not silence the tongue till every syllable was uttered. The prophet—the parent—I had almost said, the God—is in every sentence of this noble chapter, and he who can read it without catching some part of the enthusiasm, must have as little relish for composition, as for religion. And here, I cannot help wondering, that the Bible is not oftener quoted and read, as an authority, by the lovers, even of polite learning, and literary taste. The names of Pindar, Demosthenes, and our own Mr. Gray, are considered, by many, in point of sublimity, as the very children of the fun, while the Bible lies gathering the dust of disuse upon some solitary shelf, like an inestimable jewel in possession of a peasant, who is unconscious of its value. And yet, it were no difficult labour to prove, by parallel passages, that the boldest and noblest flights of these moderns (however elegant they may be when not brought to so severe a test), are very
feeble efforts, when compared to that glowing fire of imagination—that irrefistable force of language, and that sublimity of arrangement, so remarkable in many parts of the scriptures. As an instance or two, let us run the enraptured eye over a few verses of this very chapter.
"Reuben, thou art my first-born, my "might, and the beginning of my strength; "the excellency of dignity, and the excel"lency of power!" Was there ever a bolder, or more finished climax! At the fiftieth perusal, it would afford a man of taste, fresh beauty to begin again.
"Judah is a lion's whelp $ from the "prey, my son, thou art gone up: he *' stooped down, he couched as a lion, as '* an old lion; who shall rouse him up? "Binding his sole unto the vine, and his "asses colt unto the choice vine; he wash** ed his garments in wine, and his cloaths "in the blood of grapes. His■' eyes shall "be red with wine, and his teeth white 2 with milk.".
Once more. "Joseph is a fruitful "bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, "whose brances run over the wall."
"The archers have sorely grieved him, "and mot at him, and hated him.
"But his bow abode in strength, and the "arms of his hands was made strong by u the hands of the mighty God of Jacob: "from thence is the shepherd, the stone of "Israel.".
"' Even by the God of thy father, who n shall help thee, and by the Almighty, "who shall bless thee with' blessings of "Heaven above, blessings of the deep that "lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and "of the womb."
"The blessings of thy father have pre"vailed over the blessings of my progenitors ** unto the utmost bound of the everlasting "hills; they shall be on the head of Jo** seph, arid on the crown of the head of ^* him that was separated from his brethren,"
The 22d verse relating to Joseph is inimitable: the idea of the fruitful bough is a is a fine comparison, but receives prodigious heightning from the circumstance of planting it by a well, and the picture becomes quite complete, when, in consequence of these advantages of situation, its branches are said to run over the wall. The whole of this image enjoys all the constituent beauties of a happy simile. It is exact* familiar, unaffected, and concise.
As soon as the venerable Jacob had end.: ed this divine rhapsody of a departing spirit, we are told, that he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost. Allamiable and excellent as he was, he felt, in some degree, the tax of pain, which the errors of Eve intailed upon her posterity-— the pang of expiration—and then was ga.the red to his people.