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his father ; or because he had a better understanding or more amiable dispositions than his brethren?
10. All this might possibly be true ; and out of any of these particulars a fond parent might have framed a plaufible excuse for partiality and perhaps, had Jacob been alked the reason of his, he might have fo flattered and deceived himself, as to have imputed it to some one of these cau
11. For, when men wish to excuse their actions to them. selves or others, nothing is more common than to ascribe them to a good motive instead of the true one. But faithful history hath recorded the real ground of Jacob's partiality, “ he loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age.”.
12. For no better reason than this, how often do we see parents indulging a partial fondness for some of their offspring, which in proportion as it prevails, alienates their hearts from the rest !
13. Some casual circumstance attending the birth of a child, a fortunate set of features or complexion, a stri resemblance of themselves, or of fome abfent or deceased friend, or perhaps fome incident ftill more trifling, fhall take such a powerful hold on their affections, that they fhall not be able to deny themselves the gratification of distinguishing the object of their partiality by a thousand enviable tokens of peculiar regard.
14. Such distinctions, even when they are meant as rewards of real merit, ought to be conferred with caution and prudence ; left, while encouragement is given to the more worthy, the inactive and timid should be disheartened, or the bold and aspiring disgusted ; and lest envy and malevolence should be raised by those measures which were intended to excite a generous emulation.
15. But when the ground of the distinction is slight and fanciful, the effect must necessarily be injurious, both with respect to the parents and the children. It is of no coníequence in what particular manner this partiality is expressed.
16. Whether the favorite be oftener exempted from pun. dhment for his faults, excused from irksome labors, indulg
ed in the gratification of his fancies, or honored with kind words and gracious looks ;
17. Or whether he be raised above the rest by the plan of his education, his destination in life, his present appointments, or the provision which is made for him in future ;
18. Whatever be the peculiar badge of distinction, it is à coat of many colors,” which at once exposes the fond parent, who puts it on, to ridicule and censure, and the young man who wears it to envy and hatred.
19. This was experienced most sensibly both by the father and son in the story now under confideration. Jacob had the mortification to fee, that his ill-judged partiality for one of his children deprived him of the cordial affection and efteem of the rest ; and foon found that it laid him open to the most unkind and cruel treatment.
20. Jofeph felt that the elevation which a parent's fond. ness had given him above his brethren, instead of engaging their respect, had only drawn on him their ridicule, contempt and resentment.
21. They thought it hard and unjust that, in a numerous family, one child should engross the affections of the common parent ; that the streams which were designed by nature to water all the country round, should be confined to one channel, and flow in one direction alone.
22. Their pride could not brook the mortifying idea, that a brother, over whom nature had given them the advantage of seniority, and whom, in all other respects, she had placed on a level with themselves, thould be raised above them by the caprice or dotage of their father.
23. The resentment which his partiality excited, at first expressed itself in contemptuous and reproachful language ; “ They hated Jofeph, and could not speak peaceably unto him.”
24. It was still farther heightened by the recital of certain dreams, which foretold his future greatness. At length it settled into cool malice, and produced a deliberate purapose of revenge.
25. Having left their father's house, and, according to the custom of the times, taken an occasional residence in à neighboring country which afforded pasture for their flocks, 26. Jacob, who ftill retained his parental affection for
his absent fons, and probably in a much ftronger degree than their jealousy had permitted them to suppose, grew anxious concerning them, and sent out his fon Jofeph to inquire af. ter their welfare.
27. “Go, I pray thee, says he, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks, and bring me word again.” The young man cheerfully undertook the 'embally, and executed it faithfully. He had not learned from his brethren to banish natural affection from his heart.
28. When he found that they had left the place to which his father had directed him, he did not, careless about the success of his undertaking, return home without farther search ; but, making diligent inquiry, he discovered their present abode, and hastened towards them.
29. When he came within fight of their tents, liow different the emotions which arose in the breast of Joseph, and in that of his brethren ! On his part were no feelings but those of affection ; no purposes but those of kindness.
30. Having been for some time separated from them, his remembrance of their former alienation was obliterated ; or, however, the expectation of a happy interview awakened
every tender sentiment in his heart, and left no room for the intrusion of unpleasing ideas.
31. As he drew near he rejoiced to behold their profper. ity, and hoped to increase their happiness by bringing them good tidings of their father.
32. But, on his approach, a very different train of ideas rushed into their minds ; far other passions rose in their breasts : all their former resentments and jealoufies were in a moment rekindled : at the first sight of him they exclaimed----not, “ see our brother !” but, “ Behold, this dreamer cometh !”
33. A design was instantly formed to kill him, and to conceal their crime by saying that he had been devoured by some wild beast ; and, had they been all equally bent on his destruction, the design had been immediately executed.
34. But, the elder brother Reuben, under the pretence of avoiding the horror of polluting their hands with their brother's blood, but in reality that he might afterwards contrive fome means for Joseph's escape, proposed that they Thould cast him into a neighboring pit, and there leave him to perish.
35. This proposal being acceded to, the young man, immediately on his arrival, instead of being welcomed and embraced as a brother, or even saluted as a stranger, was seized and stripped of his raiment ; that coat of many
colors, which had been so long the badge of his father's fondness, and the object of their envy ; and, after many cruel el insults was thrown into the pit. All his entreaties, all his cries and tears, were ineffectual to obtain his release.
36. Malice is inexorable : before her tribunal natural af. feétion and humanity intercede in vain ; she even teaches the heart to exult in misery, and to enjoy the horrors which her bloody hands have prepared.
37. The brethren of Joseph were not only instigated by their jealousy and resentment to expose his life : but, while his piteous cries were yet founding in their ears, they proceeded to partake of their wonted repast, as if nothing had happened to disturb their tranquillity.
38. “They took him and cast him into a pit; and they fat' down to eat bread.” Such enormous crimes do envy and malice, when they have been long suffered to lie rankling in the heart, and are allowed to gain daily ftrength by being indulged, at length render men capable of committing.
39. How carefully ought we to guard against the flightest venom of such deadly poison ! At this distressful moment; Providence brought that relief to Jofeph which his brethren had denied him.
40. A company of Ishmaelites passing on their way to Egypt, it occurred to one of the company, that they might effe&tually rid themselves of this troublesome and aspiring youth, without shedding his blood, by selling him to these travellers.
41. There is in human nature such an abhorrence of murder, that even the greatest villains will, if poflible, accomplish their ends without it, and will feldom commit this horrid crime from the mere wantonness of barbarity.
42. It was therefore natural, at the approach of these Ishmaelites, that Judah should fay to his bretliren, “what profit is it, if we slay our brother and conceal hiş blood ? come, let us fell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our
hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh ;" and that his brethren thould be satisfied wich the proposal.
43. Had they indeed rightly understood the principle which Judah suggested, and pursued it into its natural confequences, they would have seen, that to sell their brother as a flave was a crime i carcely less heinous in its nature, than that which they tirit proposed to commit :
44. But, probably, the frequency of the practice of purchasing and selling flaves might, in those days, as it does at present, render men inattentive to the moral nature of the action ; and they might think it a small crime to buy or fell a brother.
45. However this was, it was determined that Joseph should be fold : the Ishmaelites accordingly purchased him, and carried him into Egypte
46. Reuben, who was absent when the bargain was made (having probably withdrawn himself with a view to rescue his brother as soon as the rest of the company had left the pit) on his return, expressed the utmoit diltreis at the loss of Joseph ; perhaps imagining that during his abfence they had dispatched him.
47. The whole affair, however, being explained to him, he acquiefced in what had been done, and they agreed to conceal the action from their father, by dipping the coat of many colors in blood, and thus leading him to conclude that fome wild beast had torn his son in pieces.
48. The artifice fucceeded ; and, by the help of that concealment and diffimulation which villainy is generally obliged to practise in order to carry on its designs, they perfuaded their father that Joseph, his beloved fon, was dead.
49. In devising and executing this deception, they might probably intend to take some revenge on their father for his unreasonable partiality in favor of the child of his old age.
50. But, whatever was their intention, it is most certain that he paid dear for this instance of weakness ; continuing for a long season to mourn for his son, with unabating and inconsolable grief :
51. “He refused to be comforted, and said, I will go down into the grave unto my fon mourning.” This whole fory teacheth us the folly of parental partiality, more feel ingly than the most labored reasonings of philosophy could