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to have even the least remorse for the unnatural cruelty they had been guilty of; but, as soon as they thought their liberty and lives in danger by the well-feigned severity of Joseph, immediately their guilt stares them in the face; they become odious to one another and to themselves, and with one voice break forth into that frank but dreadful confession of their sliame:-“ We are verily guilty concern“ ing our brother, in that we saw the an
guish of his sonl, when he besought us, " and we would not hear: therefore is 66 this distress come upon us."
Again:-It is scarcely possible to go through this story without reflecting on the hateful nature of envy; how much it concerns our own peace and happiness to watch and suppress the first motions of this passion; since it is impossible to say to what lengths it may carry us, if we once give way to it. For here we see it breaking through the strongest ties of nature, and even engaging the children of a virtuous parent in a horrid confederacy against the life of an innocent brother.
At first we may observe, they kept their envy within some bounds, contenting themselves with displaying it in their words only and outward carriage towards Joseph:—" they hated him, and could not
speak peaceably to him ;" but, by suffering it to keep possession of their hearts, it grew too violent to be controlled: the most powerful motives became weak and impotent; they were hardened against every tender sentiment, and seemed not to regard, or so much as even feel, the ştings of conscience, the emotions of pity, or the endearments of fraternal affection.
The chain of this history will naturally lead us to reflect farther on the great unreasonableness, as well as dangerous consequences, of parents dividing their affection unequally among their children. That aļl such distinctions are highly unreasonable is undeniably evident; since all our children bear an equal relation to us, and therefore have an equal claim to our favour and regard. And that the çonsequences of them are dangerous ap
pears no less so from fact and experience. For we may observe, that by thus becoming strange to our own flesh, they generally become strange to us; their affections are alienated from us, and our authority over them is destroyed. By this method also, we introduce a kind of faction or schism in our own families ; since those, whom we think proper to distinguish from the rest of our offspring by an extraordinary degree of regard, will scarce ever fail of being as much distinguished by the hate and envy of the rest of their brethren. And how far these
passions may transport them, we may learn from the story before us. though this partiality of ours should not produce such direful effects as are there recorded, yet it will at least weaken one of the best supports, and take away one of the greatest blessings of domestic life, the cordial friendship and affectionate unity of brethren among themselves; and also, by making us more remiss in the care of their education and the formation of their manners, will greatly contribute to their future miscarriages in life. And,
in this case, it will become us to consider well in sober sadness, what horror and confusion of face will seize us at the last great day. How it will make our ears tingle, and our knees smite together, to be then reproached by these our neglected children, in some such language as this: “ Behold, thou unnatural parent, the “ fruits of thy neglect of me! Hadst thou " but bestowed upon me that portion of
thy care and love, to which I was equally entitled with the rest of
my “ brethren; hadst thou not withdrawn " thy protecting hand, and left my un" sheltered innocence to fall an easy sa“ crifice to temptation ; hadst not thou
driven me to despair and ruin by an ill“ timed preference and partiality, which
stung my soul with jealousy and rage, 66 I had not now been condemned for
ever to this place of torment! Cursed “ therefore be the Father which begat me, " and the paps which I have sucked!"
It must be owned, that what I am now condemning is a fault to which even the best of men have been subject; but all parents ought to strive against it, as they would against any other criminal passion. And the only case in which such a behaviour of a parent can admit of any excuse, is that of the patriarch Jacob, whose fondness for one of his sons was chiefly owing to the extraordinary virtue and duty he met with in Joseph, and the scandalous vices and disobedience, which his brethren had been guilty of. But, even in this case, great prudence is requisite in letting our other children see, that it is their viccs only we are displeased at; and that by returning to their duty, they will certainly return, to an equal share of our love and affection.
There is another circumstance in this story, which we cannot slightly pass over, as it evidently points out to us a remarkable difference between an honest and a vicious heart,-between a genuine virtue and the spurious resemblance of it. When Joseph was solicited by his master's wife to gratify her unlawful desires, he immediately makes her this generous answer: “ Behold, says he, my master wotteth