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Almighty had compassion on their miseries; and, by the hand of Moses delivered them from the rod of Pharaoh, and conducted them through the waves of the Red Sea, and a perilous wilderness, to the land promised to their forefather Abraham and his seed forever.*
* See Gen. ch. xiii. 14. and ch. xxvi. 4, 5.
The above was all that was judged necessary, on the delivery of this Sermon, concerning the early part of the History of the Jews; but it may be agreeable to the reader to continue this note, with so much of their history, as will account for their coming into the land of Egypt, and falling into this degraded condition, under the reign of the Pharaohs.
After Noah's flood, when his descendents began to multiply on the earth, and to chuse out to themselves, different spots for the exercise of the Pastoral Life; it fell to the lot of Abraham to be carried by his father Terah into the land of Canaan, where he sojourned for a time without children or heir-But God blessed him with a son Isaac at last, in his old age; and Isaac had a son Jacob, and Jacob had a son Joseph whom he loved more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age; wherefore his brethren hated him, and took an opportunity, when he was sent by his father on a message to them, where they were feeding his flocks in Dothan, to sell him for twenty pieces of silver, to a caravan or company of Ishmaelitish, or Midianitish, merchants (for they are called by both names in the same text), who were then passing by-and took him with them, and sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of his guard-Here Joseph came to great honour, and found such grace in his master's sight, that he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hands, so that he knew not aught he had, save the bread which he did eat.
About this time a sore famine afflicted the children of Israel, in the land of Canaan; and when Jacob understood that there was corn in Egypt, he said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? Get ye down thither and buy for us, that we may live and not die. And Jacob's ten sons, the brethren of Joseph, went down to buy corn in Egypt, but Jacob retained his youngest son Benjamin, Joseph's only brother by the same mother!—" And when Joseph's ten brethren came to him and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the earth, he knew them, but they knew not him; and he affected to speak roughly unto them and to treat them as spies, compelling them to confess, that of twelve brethren, the sons of one man, in the land of Canaan, they were only ten; that the youngest remained VOL. I.
Like the Jews, our Fathers were conducted by the hand of God, through a perilous ocean, and penetrated into a wilderness, to hew out for themselves settlements, and improve them into an American
with their father, and that one was not. Joseph still affected not to believe them, and to treat them as spies; swearing by the life of Pharaoh, that in order to prove them, they should not go forth hence, except their youngest brother should be brought to him, and that one of them should go immedi- " ately and fetch him, while the rest should be kept in prison, till his return with their youngest brother, to prove whether there be any truth in them; and he put them all together into ward for three days." But, on the third day, Joseph appearing to soften of his rigor, made a new proposal, telling them, that he was a just man, fearing God, and had no mind to destroy them; but instead of sending one of them to their father to bring their youngest brother, they should all go but one, who should remain bound in prison, till they should bring him, and prove their honesty; and he took from them Simeon and bound him before their eyes, to be kept as å pledge of their honesty in standing to their engagements. All this while, nature worked so strong in Joseph, that he could not stand the encounter, but turned himself about from them and wept; returning soon, however, to commune with them, and to comfort them with the assurance, that if they brought their younger brother back with them, Simeon should be safe, and they should receive every favour in the land. Having returned to their father Jacob, and the famine still continuing sore in the land of Canaan, he is at length with difficulty persuaded to let Benjamin go, after their telling him all that happened in their former journey, and that it would be in vain to return, or hope for any relief in buying more food, unless their younger brother should go down with them. Being then suffered by their father to depart, with his present of the best fruits of the land in their vessels, to be tendered to Joseph, and double money in their hand, besides the money that had been brought back in the mouth of their sacks in the former journey, they rose up and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph; and when Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he ordered the ruler of his house to bring them in and prepare a feast for them; at which Joseph made himself known to his brethren, desiring them not to grieve, for having sold him; for that God did only send him before them into Egypt to preserve life, or to preserve them a posterity upon earth, and for that purpose had raised him to great power, making him a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his house, and ruler throughout the land of Egypt: therefore, haste ye, says he, go up to my father, tell him of all my glory in Egypt, and request him to come down to me, that he may be near unto
Canaan for the benefit of their posterity! By the arm of the Almighty, while they were yet a small people, they were protected from surrounding dangers-The savages of the wilderness became their friends, and they grew up and multiplied into a great and prosperous people! How far we have followed the example of the Jews, in our backslidings and forgetfulness of the mercies of God, after we became a nation, will ap
me, with you my brethren and your children and children's children, and your flocks and your herds, and all you have; and here I will nourish you; for yet there are five years of famine to come. He then concludes this kind invitation, to his brethren, in the most melting act of tenderness"He fell upon his brother. Benjamin's neck, and wept-and Benjamin wept upon his neck! moreover, he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them"-and Pharaoh, hearing of all this, was well pleased with the account of such a tender scene, and confirmed unto Joseph the invitation which he had given to his Father and Brethren, to come down to the land of Egypt and settle there; they and their little ones, and their wives, and to be sure to bring their father with them, and come, without regarding their stuff, or encumbering themselves with too much baggage; for that, when they came down, the good of all the land of Egypt should be theirs, and they should eat the fat thereof. After this invitation, [and furnishing them with waggons and provisions, and five changes of raiment, &c. for their journey, according to the command of Pharaoh] Joseph sent his brethren away, charging them [as duly regardful of the infirmities of human nature] to see that they fall not out by the way.
Joseph's brethren, having got up out of Egypt, into the land of Canaan, unto Jacob their Father, otherwise called Israel, delivered unto him the message which they bore, surprizing him with the news "that his son Joseph was yet alive, and governor over all the land of Egypt; and Jacob's heart fainted for he believed them not-But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them, and seeing the waggons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob revived, and he said-It is enoughJoseph my son is yet alive, I will go and see him before I die." In this resolution, God confirmed Him in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob! and he said, Here am I. And God said, I am the God of thy father; fear not to go down into Egypt, for I will there make thee a great nation; I will go down with thee into Egypt, and I will surely bring thee up again; and Joseph thy son shall put his hand upon thine eyes; that is
pear from a brief statement of their conduct, after they became a nation, in the promised land.
Every page of their history, as recorded in the Old Testament, will yield instruction on this head.
he shall be with thee when thou leavest this world, shall close thine eyes in death, and take care of thy funeral when dead."
Jacob, thus confirmed in his resolution, by the visions of the night, rose up from Beer-sheba, and departed for Egypt, with all his family and their goods. And the souls that came with him into Egypt, and which came out of his loins, besides his sons' wives, were three scorce and six; and Joseph hearing of his approach with his family, made ready his chariot, and went up to meet his father, to Goshen; and presented himself unto him, and fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while; and his father said unto Joseph, "now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive."
Thus we see the children of Israel, the progenitors of the Jewish nation, came honourably into Egypt, and settled by the invitation, and under the protection and auspices, of the Pharaohs themselves, the Rulers of the land.
But after Joseph died, there arose up a new King over Egypt, which knew not Joseph; and became jealous of the children of Israel; who (during the period of seventeen years that Jacob lived, with fifty-four years to the death of Joseph, and sixty-four years more to the birth of Moses, being in all one hundred and thirty-five years), had become so numerous as to
See the account of this funeral, on Jacob's death, after he had lived seventeen years in the land of Egypt [ch. xlvii. 28]; when Joseph having embalmed his body [ch. xlix. 33] and fulfilled the forty days of mourning, according to custom; he spoke unto Pharaoh, and informed him of the oath [ch. xlvii. 29] which his father had required of him, when the time that he must die, drew near, viz.
Bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt; but I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place in the grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan; (which was in the place bought by Abram [ch. xxiii] to bury Sarah, viz. the cave of Machpelah, called also the field of Machpelah, which was a large place, capable of containing sundry caves, or vaults for burying places)-And on this request of Joseph to Pharaoh, saying let me go up I pray thee, according to my oath to bury my father, and I will come again; Pharaoh said, go up and bury thy father according as be made thee swear."
The Chronicles of their kings, rulers, and judges, are a standing testimony of their ingratitude and for
fill the whole country; amounting, on a Census soon afterwards taken, to six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty men, from twenty years old and upwards; and, therefore, reckoning women, children and youths under twenty, the number of souls would amount to three times as many, viz. near two Millions.
This new king alarmed at such a prodigious increase of foreigners in his land called a council of the great men of his nation, wherein it was resolved to keep down the growth of the Israelites, by every device possible, without totally destroying them, and losing the benefit of their labours as subjects-And, therefore, they set over them Task-masters, to afflict them with hard labour and burdens; but the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew! Grieved at this, the Egyptians resolved to take a more severe course with them, and to increase the rigor of their servitude. "They made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field; and the wicked Pharaoh their king, commanded the Hebrew Midwives, that when they did the office of Midwife to the Hebrew women, and saw them upon the stools; if it be a Son, that they shall kill him, but if a Daughter, then she might live-But the Midwives feared God, and disobeyed the King's command, and saved the Men-children alive, and the people still multiplied and waxed very mightyPharaoh, in his wrath, then charged all his people to do that which the midwives refused, and to watch the Hebrew women in their labour, and every Son that was born to cast into the river Nile, but every Daughter to save alive."
But the Almighty defeated this device also, and made the king's own daughter the instrument of preserving and raising up Moses, whom God appointed to be the deliverer of his oppressed brethren from the rod of Pharaoh, and to conduct them with an high hand, through the Waves of the Red Sea, and the Perils of a vast wilderness, to the land promised long before to their father Abraham; placing him on a high place, and saying unto him,* "Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, Northward, and Southward, and Eastward, and Westward; for all the land which thou seest, I to thee will give it, and to thy seed forever;" which seed God had further promised,t" to multiply as the stars of Heaven, and that of it or out of it, all the nations of the earth should be blessed; because that Abraham had obeyed the voice of God, and kept his charge, his commandments, his statutes, and his laws."-To add more of this history of the Jews by way of note, would be unnecessary.