THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST
by Octavius Winslow
Himself to His People"
or "Joseph Making Himself Known to His
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all
his attendants, and he cried out, "Have everyone leave my presence!" So
there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And
he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh's household
heard about it. Genesis 45:1-2
We have now reached the denouement of this
interesting and persuasive story. The veil is uplifted, the disguise is
removed, and Joseph stands before his brethren manifested and made known.
The whole scene is inimitably beautiful and richly instructive, such as
neither the pen of the poet, the pencil of the painter, nor the tongue of
the orator can adequately depict. Talk of human fiction! Scripture history
is infinitely more fascinating and marvellous; added to which is the
irresistible power and charm of revealed and confirmed truth. Reserving for
the next chapter of our work the relation in which Joseph manifested
himself, in the present we have to do only with the manifestation. This one
particular is sufficiently suggestive of most precious truth, touching
Christ and His brethren, to engage our study. Upon JESUS, the central object
of our story, we must keep the eye undividedly and intently fixed; for,
wonderful and exciting as the story itself is, its charm and its teaching
were as nothing if we see not JESUS in it. The most suggestive points for
our meditation are- THE PRIVACY- THE MANIFESTATION- THE EMOTION.
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants,
and he cried out, "Have everyone leave my presence!" So there was no one
with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. Genesis 45:1-2
The occasion was eventful and solemn; there were entwined with it
memories too sacred, feelings and emotions too tender, for any other to
share with themselves. He resolved, therefore, that it should be veiled with
the profoundest secrecy. There was, too, remarkable delicacy of feeling on
the part of Joseph in this arrangement. He considered his brethren- the
thoughts and feelings that would overwhelm them at the astounding discovery
that he was their very brother whom they had injured. The memory of their
sin and wrong rushing back upon their minds with overpowering force, might
so fill them with shame and confusion of face as to expose them to the rude
stare and reproach of the Egyptians. From this humiliation, the kind and
considerate brother would sincerely screen them.
Added to this, Joseph was now about to divest himself of his official
dignity, and to exchange the distant, stern address of the governor of Egypt
for the unreserved, familiar, and affectionate communion of the brother, and
no eye shall gaze upon the spectacle except their own. "And there stood no
man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren."
It was an occasion and a joy with which a stranger should not
intermeddle, and with which another could not sympathize. We pass to its
spiritual and gospel teaching. Do you see in this, my reader, a remarkable
page of your own spiritual history? Are not your thoughts at once thrown
back upon some of the most sacred and solemn periods of your experience,
when, separated and alone, not a human eye seeing, not a human ear hearing,
there has been a gracious manifestation to you of God in Christ, the most
personal, touching, and overwhelming?
The Church of God is hidden and invisible. Her divine life, her spiritual
conflicts, her joys and sorrows, are, for the most part, concealed from the
rude gaze of an ungodly world; and that which transpires between the child
of God and his Father in heaven, between Jesus and His brethren, is
cognizant only to Him whose most confiding, solemn, and gracious interviews
are reserved for hours and places of the profoundest privacy.
Let us advert to two or three periods of our spiritual history
illustrating this. There is, in the first place, God's separation of His
people from all others in election. God's people are a "remnant according to
the election of grace." His Church is truly and emphatically an elected
body. They are a people taken out of the world according to His eternal
purpose and everlasting covenant, designated and set apart as His especial
and peculiar people. This truth flashes from the page of God's Word as with
electric light. Thus we read, "God at the first did visit the Gentiles to
take out of them a people for His name." "He has chosen us in Him before the
foundation of the world." "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God."
"All that the Father gives to Me shall come to Me." "You are a chosen
generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people." What need
we of further testimony?
Here is the first and most ancient separation of God's people, invisible
and unknown; no angel, no creature present when that choice was made, when
that covenant was entered into, when that Church was chosen. It was a secret
eternally, solemnly veiled in the infinite depths of Jehovah's mind. He
alone was cognizant of it who dwelt in the bosom of the Father. "Secret
things belong to God." How worthy of Him this eternal act of sovereign grace
and love, "who works all things after the counsel of His own will," and "who
gives no account of any of His matters!"
In nothing does He appear more like Himself- more completely and
gloriously the eternal, independent, holy, sovereign Lord God. Receive in
faith this truth, because it is revealed- adore it; because it is living-
love it; because it entwines the holiness and comfort of the saints with the
glory and praise of God.
Then, there is the separation of God's people in their spiritual and
effectual calling by the Holy Spirit. Real conversion is a secret and
separating work. It separates a man from himself, from the covenant of
works, from the world, and often from his family. It touches and dissolves
the ties which in unregeneracy so closely and so fondly bound him to earth's
sinful associations. Where divine and sovereign grace thus enters the heart,
oh what a division, what a separation transpires, in the experience of that
individual, from all the antecedents which at one period of his history
formed the charm, the sweetness, the very sun of human existence!
Who can describe the awful privacy of that transaction, when the
worshiped idol 'self', the cherished righteousness, the adored object of
creature-affection was laid at Jesus' feet, and Jesus and the soul were left
alone in the discovery of a relation, and in the manifestation of a love
such as heaven must have looked down to see! My dear reader, has your
professed religion thus separated you? Has the great divorce taken place?
Have you been separated from the self-righteous world? from the gay world?
from the ungodly world? from the intellectual world? disenthralled from that
form of worldly fascination and power by whose spell you were held a willing
captive? If so, then the snare is broken and you are escaped. Divine and
sovereign grace has exerted upon you its mightiest power, and conferred upon
you its richest boon!
This is true conversion- a separation from self-righteousness; from the
dominion of sin; from the captivity of Satan and all other that is false. O
solemn stillness, O holy privacy of that moment when this great change takes
place- this grand secret is disclosed- this wondrous discovery is made!
Truly does our true Joseph cause every man, every object, and every feeling
to retire from the scene, when, by the Spirit's quickening and His
converting grace, He draws the soul in love to Himself, and reveals the
secret of the covenant. It is an occasion too holy, too sacred and solemn,
for any other to be present save Christ and the Soul.
The providential, not less than the gracious, dealings of God often bring
us into this experience of isolation. When the Lord intends to reveal His
ways, and to make us better acquainted with Himself and with our own selves
in these ways, there is that in His dealings which seems to sequester us
from all but Himself. He removes us from the crowd- from the busy hum of
men- from the whirl and excitement of daily life; and, bidding all retire,
there is no creature present while He talks with us.
Ah! there is a silence in that bereavement, a solitude in that sickness,
a secret in that adversity, a mystery in that event, known only to Christ
and the soul. There is heart-searching, and conscience-probing, and
sin-revealing, and divine discoveries, veiled from every intelligence but
the believer and God. And when the hand of our Father is thus laid upon us,
the stricken deer seeks not more instinctively the lonely glen to nurse its
wound in solitude, than does our heart prompt us to retreat from our fellows
and seek the cloister of a sacred privacy, to think and feel and act alone
And what an unfolding is there here of the tender, delicate consideration
of Jesus! With His solemn rebukes, His deep heart-searchings, His gracious
discoveries, no one shall be cognizant except Himself. Our secret sins,
which He places in the light of His own countenance, He kindly veils from
every other. What deep instruction may we receive from this! How considerate
we should be of the case, how careful of the feelings, and how jealous of
the reputation of the Lord's brethren and ours! Our Joseph will never
needlessly and unfeelingly expose us to the rude gaze, the changed
affection, the lessened esteem and confidence of others; but, veiling our
infirmities, failures, and sins from the world and the saints, will deal
with them in the solemn privacy of our own souls. So let us deal with our
But it is in the act of private communion with God that the believer and
Christ are the most truly and solemnly alone. Then, if ever, every being and
object retires, and Jesus draws near and holds the soul in the spell of a
fellowship and joy with which the stranger intermedles not. Such was the
communion of the patriarch at Peniel. He was alone. The curtain of night
draped the scene from every eye; all sound was hushed into silence but the
voice of prayer. Jacob and the Angel of the Covenant were the sole actors in
that scene. Then it was Christ made Himself known, conferred a spiritual
knighthood upon the holy auditor, and retiring, left him a conqueror and
Beloved, our greatest strength in prayer is, when we wrestle alone with
the Strong One. Our thoughts, and feelings, and sympathies, are shared by
others when with others we draw near to God. But do you, O son of Jacob,
aspire to his dignity and blessing? Then cause every one to go out when you
would hold your most sacred season with Christ. O blessed hour, when Christ
and the heart meet in holy, confiding, loving fellowship! There dwells not
in that bosom a sin, in its depths of sensibility a sorrow, in its clinging
affections a rival, in its intense yearnings a desire, in its fervent
breathings a petition, in its bright sunshine a cloud, which may not at that
moment find pardon, sympathy, and repose in converse with Jesus.
Oh, cultivate these seasons of privacy, these moments of separation for
communion with God! Christ Himself needed and sought them. How frequently
did He leave the busy world, and the thronging multitude, and the presence
of His disciples, to meditate in pensive loneliness on the sea-shore, or to
pour forth His midnight supplications amid the mountain's solitude! If He,
the Strong One, the Sinless One, felt the need of retirement for thought,
and prayer, and self-communion, how much deeper our need, whose nature is so
fallen, whose heart is so sinful, whose path is so thickly paved with
temptations to evil, and so deeply shaded with the storm-clouds of sorrow!
Oh, see that your hours of converse with Jesus are not rudely invaded! Go
at morning's dawn, at mid-day's turmoil, at evening's shade, yes, in the
still hour of night, when sad thoughts encircle, and tears bedew your
pillow, and, dismissing the world and the creature, draw near to the Mighty
One, the Compassionate One, the All-seeing One, and tell the Savior all! Oh,
cultivate sacred retirement! It is as essential to the nourishment of your
piety, the increase of your spirituality, the comfort of your soul as the
morning's sunbeam and the evening's dew to earth's fertility.
The richest fruit and flower of truth grow beneath the cross, the purest
springs of grace flow in the hidden, shaded walk with God. There you can
confess sin, and unveil grief, and breathe needs, and make known trials,
seek and obtain renewed supplies of pardon and strength, peace and comfort,
as nowhere else. And realize how beautifully and wisely God has harmonized
the time and place of separation from all others, with the especial season
of communion with Himself.
"The calm retreat, the silent shade,
With prayer and praise agree,
And seem by Your sweet bounty made
For those who follow Thee."
"Then, if Your Spirit touch the soul,
And grace her mean abode,
Oh, with what peace, and joy, and love,
She communes with her God!"
"There, like the nightingale, she pours
Her solitary lays;
Nor asks a witness to her song,
Nor sighs for human praise."
Joseph, having commanded every man to retire, then makes himself known.
This conducts us to THE MANIFESTATION of Joseph to his brethren. "Joseph
made himself known unto his brethren." What must have been the varied
thoughts, the conflicting emotions of Joseph's brethren, and of Joseph
himself, when they found themselves face to face alone! In the minds of the
conscious brethren what solemn awe, what memories of sin, what forebodings
of evil, what strange reflections and fears now crowd! In Joseph's heart,
what concealed emotion, what smothered feelings, what loving, tender
thoughts and purposes were revolving! Is there nothing corresponding with
this in the divine and gracious manifestations of Christ to the believing
How impressive the thoughts and feelings of the believer when he finds
himself alone in the Divine presence! What sad memories of sinful departure,
of wilful backsliding, of unfaithfulness and unkindness to Christ, crowd the
mind! What trembling, and fears, and self-abasement fill the heart! The
remembrance at that moment of wrong, and injury, and unkindness to a Being
so good, to a Savior so gracious, to a Friend so loving, to a Father so
tender and faithful, overwhelm the soul with awe, humiliation, and dread.
But oh, what a contrast does the Lord himself present! In the heart of
Jesus, what love, what compassion, what yearning tenderness, and in the mind
of God, what thoughts and purposes of peace dwell, panting, as it were, for
the expression and the outflow!
But let our thoughts for a moment dwell more exclusively upon this single
element of experimental religion- the Divine manifestation to the believing
soul. It is the very essence of a holy, happy religion. A Christianity
without it is but the name, the profession, the resemblance. A man of God is
a living soul; a believer in Christ is in vital union with his Head; he is a
temple of the Holy Spirit. All this involves close dealing and communion
with the Divine. With such an individual, thus quickened with divine and
spiritual life, there must of necessity be much transaction with God, with
the spiritual and invisible.
Water ascends not more naturally to its level, than does the grace of
God, welled within a gracious soul, rise in communion and aspiration and
praise to Him from whom it came. It is no hallucination, nothing visionary
and ideal, that a child of God may so walk with God, a believer in Christ so
commune with Christ, as to realize on earth a converse with the divine, and
the invisible, and the spiritual, but one remove from the pure and perfected
fellowship of heaven itself. The man of God is as conscious of having God's
ear open to him, God's countenance beaming upon him, God's heart responding
to him, as a loving child is who stands in the parental presence, and wakes
from a father's lips words of response and love. I cannot illustrate a
feature of real vital religion of greater moment than this.
And I am all the more earnest in enforcing it, seeing there are so many
religionists who are satisfied with their round of religious duties,
unaccompanied and unsanctified with a moment's consciousness of the Lord's
manifestation to their souls. Ask them if they know from personal experience
the import of these gracious words of Christ, "We will come and manifest
ourselves to you," and how unmeaning and blank their look!
Let me remark that the first and most memorable discovery of Christ to
the soul is in its earliest stage of grace. What pen can portray, or tongue
describe, the experience of that moment when Jesus first stands revealed to
the believing Soul; when words of pardon are first spoken, and a sense of
acceptance is first realized, and the love of God is first felt! If the
reader can recall that hour when Jesus stood before him, the veil uplifted,
the disguise removed, all manifested and revealed in surpassing loveliness
and love, your Savior, your Lord and Sovereign, then, methinks, he can
recall a period in his existence upon which memory will feast with delight,
lasting as the duration of eternity. Oh, heaven alone can supply a joy
comparable with the joy of that hour!
Does this page meet the eye of a Christ-seeking, Christ-longing soul? My
beloved reader, the Lord Jesus waits to be gracious to you. He is prepared
to throw off the disguise, to rend in twain the wail, to lay aside the
appearance which may have filled your mind with awe and your heart with
fear, and to reveal Himself as bearing your sin, as exhausting your curse,
as delivering you from condemnation, and as reconciling you to God by His
blood. Oh, He is ready to burst through the dark clouds with which your sin
and guilt and unbelief have invested Him, and to stand before your trembling
spirit in His true relation, full of grace, overflowing with love, uttering
assurances of a forgiveness that will leave not the shadow of a sin
uneffaced, of a righteousness that places you in a present acceptance, and
insures you a future glory.
Only believe! give full credence to the assurances of His gospel. That
gospel tells you that He came into the world to save sinners; that He came
to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance; that He died for the
ungodly; that He casts out none who come to God by Him; that He saves to the
uttermost; that pardon and justification, adoption and salvation, are the
gifts of His grace. Only believe these simple yet wondrous statements, and
the result will be a true and settled joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Oh, what a blessed realization of Jesus to your soul will there be the
moment doubt yields to confidence, fear gives place to love, despair merges
into hope, and guilt and condemnation are supplanted by pardon, peace, and
assurance forever! All these precious streams will flow like gentle wavelets
into your soul the moment you embrace in childlike faith the Savior.
Then there is the Divine manifestation to the believing soul, after a
season of spiritual gloom, depression, and despondency. It pleases God to
discipline and instruct the believer by darkness as by light. Indeed, the
one is as essential to the progress of our Christianity as the other.
Astronomical science achieves its most glorious discoveries when earth's
beauties, clad in evening's shadows, fade upon the view. Infinitely greater
and more glorious are the spiritual discoveries of God, of Christ, of truth,
and his own heart, made by the child of light when walking in darkness. He
learns in the shade what he did not in the sunshine.
The storm has tested the strength of his barque; the lee-shore has proved
the firmness of his anchor; the darkness of a starless night has increased
his confidence in the correctness of his compass. In this season of
spiritual gloom, of severe soul-exercise, what lessons the believer learns
of God's love, power, and faithfulness; how confirmed is his faith in the
truth of God's Word; what experimental discoveries he makes of the love, the
fulness, the sympathy of Jesus; and how more thoroughly schooled does he
become in, perhaps, the most difficult, as the most humiliating, of all
knowledge- the knowledge of himself! "Such honor have all the saints."
O beloved, there is no event or circumstance of your life, however simple
or inexplicable, profound in its gloom or dazzling in its brightness,
pleasing or painful, by which God does not intend to instruct and bless you.
He taught David as much in the cave of Adullam as He ever did upon the
throne of Israel. He taught Joseph as a prisoner in his dungeon what he ever
learned as the governor of all Egypt. Deem not, then, days and nights of
spiritual adversity, trial, and storm, through which you course your way,
blank and unfruitful periods in your history. Oh, no! Christ is in all, and
by all He is but deepening His work of grace in your heart, promoting the
divine life in your soul, and training you for heaven.
But these seasons of spiritual depression and gloom in the believer's
experience are but temporary. There follows the season of Divine
manifestation, when Christ, the Sun, breaks through the dark clouds, and all
is light and joy again. "He restores my soul." "The Lord will command His
loving-kindness in the day, and in the night His song shall be with me." Our
Joseph removes the momentary obscuration, the cloud-veil that He wore, and
stands before us our Joseph still. Oh, can you not testify to such blessed
seasons in your experience, when the Lord has, after a night of weeping,
caused the morning of joy to dawn; when, after a long and dreary road, you
have emerged into a large and wealthy place, bathed with the sunshine of His
These are blessed manifestations of Jesus. And but for the hidings, the
withdrawings, the suspensions of His sensible presence and love, how little
should we know of the sustaining power of faith in darkness, and of the
enhanced sweetness and pleasantness of the light when the darkness is past!
All this is to endear Jesus to our soul, to make us better acquainted with
our true Joseph. We learn as much what He is by His disguises as by His
manifestations, by His hidings as His revealings. In both He is our
If it is now a time of darkness with your soul, hope in God, for you
shall yet praise Him. Jesus will not always speak to you in a reserved and
rough tone, to test your faith and prove your love and make the
manifestation all the sweeter. Wait but the Lord's time, and though for a
little moment He has hid His face from you, yet with great mercies He will
"Encompassed with clouds of distress,
Just ready all hope to resign,
I pant for the light of Your face,
And fear it will never be mine."
"Disheartened with waiting so long,
I sink at Your feet with my load;
All plaintive I pour out my song,
And stretch forth my hands unto God."
"Shine; Lord! and my terror shall cease;
The blood of atonement apply;
And lead me to Jesus for peace
The Rock that is higher than I"
"Almighty to rescue You are;
Your grace is my shield and my tower;
Come, succor and gladden my heart
Let this he the day of Your power."
Nor must we fail to quote afflictive seasons in the believer's history,
as occasions of especial manifestation of Jesus to the soul. Affliction is a
separating process. The Lord, by these dispensations of trial and sorrow,
draws us aside into solitary places, and there converses with us. And when
dark adversity or sore affliction has thus withdrawn us from man, or,
perhaps, has impelled man from us, and we are left alone, we are surprised
to find how near we are to Christ, or, rather, how near Christ has brought
Himself to us.
It is only in the sorrows and trials of human life that real friendship
is fully tested. A friend who loves us, clings to us, acknowledges and aids
us at all times, is a friend indeed. That Friend of friends is JESUS. We
have but to be in trial, in sorrow, in need, to realize that Christ is
standing at our door asking admittance to our grief. The storm has borne Him
on its wing, the clouds have provided Him a chariot, death has brought Him
in its wake. Where a suffering, sorrowing, needy servant of God is, there is
The season of sickness is a touching illustration of the especial
manifestation of Christ to His people. I cite this instance, as it is one,
more or less, the experience of many of God's people; and sooner or later
will be the experience of all. A sick-room is often the audience-chamber of
Christ- the King's private room where He meets His saints alone. Thus
sequestered from all- the world excluded, the creature shut out, business
suspended- lo! Christ has entered; and, oh, what solemn transactions, what
gracious communion, what Divine manifestations, what interchanged
affections, then transpire between Christ and the soul.
The sick-room was necessary for the separation, the separation was needed
for the manifestation, and the manifestation for the health and comfort of
And thus a dispensation which the man of God thought a calamity so
adverse and a cloud so threatening, has but developed God's purpose of
mercy, wisdom, and love, in the closer communion into which it has brought
the heart with Christ. So that the season of sickness and suffering- a
sleepless pillow and a couch of weakness- has been irradiated and soothed
with gleams of heaven, with the presence of Jesus and the smiles of God.
Exiled from the privileges of the public worship of God, severed from
those means of grace and useful employments in which your soul has been wont
to delight, deem not yourself, sick one! the inhabitant of a dry land, or as
an exile whom no one loves, for whom no one cares. Oh, no! Your sick and
suffering couch God may place near by the vestibule of heaven, yes, within
the very precincts of the coming glory- such may be the divine
manifestations to your soul. Angels sent from above minister to you, happy
spirits encircle you, the odors of paradise float around you, the breezes of
heaven fan you, the eye of God watches over you, and the manifested presence
of Jesus strengthens you to bear the exile with cheerfulness, the languor
with patience, and the suffering with a heart that meekly exclaims, "As my
Thus, beloved, adversity, whatever its form- be it the loss of
property, the decay of health, the bereavement of friends- has been the door
through which Christ has entered, bent on a loving, gracious discovery of
Himself to your soul. He has constructed the furnace, kindled the fire,
controls the heat only to melt and then to mold, to purge and then to purify
and refine your soul, that you may have less of sin and more of holiness,
less of the creature and more of Christ, less of self and more of God, less
of earth and more of Heaven.
"Pain's furnace-heat within me quivers,
God's breath upon the flame does blow:
And all my heart in anguish shivers
And trembles at the fiery glow
And yet I whisper: As God will!
And in His hottest fire hold still."
"He comes, and lays my heart, all heated,
On the hard anvil, minded so,
Into His own fair shape to beat it
With His great hammer, blow on blow:
And yet I whisper: As God will!
And at His heaviest blows hold still."
"He takes my softened heart and beats it;
The sparks fly off at every blow;
He turns it over and over and heats it,
And lets it cool, and makes it glow
And yet I whisper: As God will!
And in His mighty hand hold still."
"Why should I murmur? for the sorrow
Thus only longer-lived would be;
Its end may come, and will tomorrow,
When God has done His work in me,
So I say trusting: As God will!
And, trusting to the end, hold still."
"He kindles, for my profit purely,
Affliction's glowing, fiery brand;
And all His heaviest blows are surely
Inflicted by a Master hand
So I say praising: As God will!
And hope in Him, and suffer still." (Julius Sturm)
Nor must we overlook the gracious manifestations of Christ's restoring
grace and changeless love after seasons of spiritual and penitential
backsliding. Such was the look of Jesus to the fallen Peter. Such the
language of God to His repentant Ephraim: "I have surely heard Ephraim
bemoaning himself.... Therefore my affections are troubled for him; I will
surely have mercy upon him, says the Lord."
Oh, what a mercy that the Lord curbs our waywardness, checks our
wanderings, restores and heals our backslidings; and when in contrition we
lie at His feet bemoaning our departures, confessing our sins, covered with
shame and confusion at our base, unkind, ungrateful requital of love so
deep, mercy so great, grace so free, how blessed then the manifestations of
His restoring mercy, His healing grace, His unchanged and forgiving
affection! We marvel not that the gentle word, the expressive look of
Christ, breaks the heart with contrition, and dissolves it into love.
But the most gracious, manifest, and sustaining revealings of Christ to
His brethren are reserved for the lone, shaded valley of death. What can
meet that solemn period but faith in Christ? Who can so tread it with us as
that its loneliness shall create no depression, its gloom no obscurity, its
appearance no terror, its dart no sting, its remote consequences no fear-
When death confronts a believer, he confronts Christ in that believer,
and meets his Spoiler and his Foe. And so near is Jesus, so absorbingly
conscious is the departing soul of His presence, it sees not death, but Him
only who is the Conqueror of death, the Resurrection and the Life, and so it
fears no evil, and passes over to the other side, its song of victory, in
dying cadence, fading in the distance.
Fear not, then, the coming hour! You shall not be deserted nor desolate;
separated from others, you will be all the more engaged with Christ. That
solemn crisis will find Him at your side; and although sad recollections of
chilled affections, of unfaithful services, of an uneven walk, it may be, a
wound inflicted upon the bosom that now pillows your languid head; may crowd
upon the memory, yet, oblivious of it all, and forgiving it all, Christ is
there to give you dying, God-glorifying grace for the hour and article of
Dismissing the revelation of Joseph to his brethren, we nest approach THE
SENSIBILITY he displayed on the occasion: "And he wept aloud." The long
pent-up feelings of his heart now found vent in that intense audible mode
peculiar to oriental grief. Emotions he had struggled to conceal now threw
off their guise, and he wept. These were marvellous tears of Joseph! Who
gave him that sensibility? who kindled these feelings? who unsealed these
tears?- He of whom it is written, "Jesus wept."
Ah, beloved, if such was the sensibility of Joseph, a man of like
infirmities, selfishness, and sin, with ourselves- what must be the
sensibility, what the sympathy, and what the tears of Christ? The love, the
tenderness, the sympathy, those tears thus expressed in the presence of his
brethren, were welled there by his glorious, gracious Antitype- they were
but distillings from the nature and spirit of Christ. It is a beautiful
shadowing forth this of the hidden love and sympathy of the Savior- hidden
and unknown until our circumstances elicit and reveal it.
Did the heart of Joseph overflow? Did the sight, the need, and the
affliction of his brethren unseal the fountain of sensibility? Do you think
that when you stand in the presence of Christ He will feel and exhibit less
kindness, sympathy, and love? Oh, no! His nature is so identical with your
own, there is not a shade of sorrow, nor a form of temptation, nor a
peculiarity of need to which the sensibility and sympathy of His heart is
A weeping Joseph! it is a touching spectacle, and I envy not the feelings
of the individual who can read the story without emotion. A weeping Savior!
it is a sublime study, and I envy the pencil that can livingly portray, and
the loftiness and delicacy of that perception that can vividly realize its
image, its tenderness, and its grandeur. Yet more deeply do I covet the
feelings of that saint who, with a heart of leaden grief, with mental
beclouding and depression, its stricken and bleeding affections wandering
through the vacant and desolate cloisters of the soul whose beloved
occupants death has removed, can believingly, calmly, silently sink into the
depths of this boundless sea of Christ's human sensibility, and realize the
all-sufficiency of His sustaining grace, and the exquisite soothing of His
sympathizing love. "Jesus wept "-words we can never weary of repeating, and
which will continue to fall sweet as heaven's music on the ear until He
wipes the last tear away.
But if of human sorrow there is one with which the sensibility of our
true Joseph is the most closely and tenderly entwined, it is the sorrow
which the inroads of death produce- the grief which the departure into
eternity of loved ones leaves in its long, lingering shadow, and anguish in
the heart. This is a loss which we feel only One can meet; it were
irreparable but for Christ. We may part with health, but by skill, kindness,
and care, win back again the boon. We may part with wealth, but by patient
and self-denying industry retrieve our loss. We may part with endeared and
sacred places, but by new friendships, scenes, and associations, experience
a sweet and soothing mitigation of the sorrow.
But no skill of science, no efforts of kindness, no voice of love can
redeem from the grave, or win back from eternity, the beloved spirits that
have left us. They are gone beyond our recall. The treasure of our heart-
the light of our home- the companion of our pilgrimage- the charm and
sweetness of life has departed, leaving a grief Christ only can soothe, a
shadow He only can illumine, a vacancy He only can fill. There is but one
Being in the wide, wide world, but one in the boundless universe, who can
occupy that lone and desolate niche.
Our dearest Lord was disciplined by this very sorrow of parting, that He
might be able to succor and soothe this grief of ours. Oh, sweet sorrow,
which none but Christ can soothe! Oh, sacred loss, which none but Christ can
supply! It needs be often that the tenderest fibre of our affections should
be severed, the most sacred cloister of our hearts should be emptied, the
fondest idol of our souls displaced, that we might learn the reality and
power of Christ's sympathy in parting.
Who can supply a parent's care, fill a child's place, be more than
husband, brother, friend, minister, but Jesus? Then let the swelling billow
of your bereavement but cast you more completely upon Him- the Rock that is
higher than you. If this be the fruit, a rich and golden harvest will your
faith have sickled from this sowing of tears. Weep on! and weep not only at
the feet, but on the very bosom of Christ, that your sorrow may all the more
partake His sympathy. Wish not to recall the absent one- that were selfish
sorrow- rather seek greater nearness to the Lord, a deeper sanctification of
the heart, a more full, unreserved surrender to God. Let Christ be more
precious to you now than ever; and all the future of your path be cheered by
His presence, and all the future of your pilgrimage be consecrated to His
"Oh! weep, sad heart!
The loved, the lovely, from this earth have flown;
The beautiful have left you all alone
Autumn its dead leaves over their graves has strown."
"Oh! weep, sad heart!
The Savior wept for you, and bore the smart
Of your deep grief in His own bleeding heart
You may not sit alone, and mourn apart."
"Then weep a while;
You'll miss the cheerful voices in their mirth,
That brightened many a lonely path on earth.
Ah! gentle ones, you have a heavenly birth."
"Weep not for these,
They've passed from this tempestuous land of ours
Into a clime of endless love and flowers,
Crowned with immortal bliss in heavenly bowers"
"Then dry your tears!
Sheltered so kindly in the Savior's breast
You would not call your loved ones from that breast.
Oh! with the angels leave them, pure and blest
Weep not, sad heart."
In conclusion, allow me to exhort you to cultivate seasons of holy
privacy. Beware of losing yourself in a crowd of religious purposes, and in
the turmoil of religious doings. You may be "religious overmuch!" Allowing
things and engagements professedly religious, and for a religious purpose,
to become too encroaching and absorbing, you may leave no time for private
prayer, for closet transactions, for personal heart converse with God. Many
an individual has lost his Christian evidences, his spiritual joy, his
assured hope, in the pious activities, the religious excitement, the mere
outworkings and paraphernalia of Christianity.
But receive this truth in the love that offers it- Your soul cannot
advance in the Divine life, you cannot be a lively, joyful, happy Christian,
you cannot learn to look at death with calmness and at eternity with
confidence, unless you cultivate those seasons which find you closeted with
Christ. These seasons form the most powerful aids to religious progress. It
is then we understand more of the mind and insinuate more deeply into the
heart of our Lord.
We read that when Jesus took His disciples apart from all others into a
desert place, He then explained to them the parables which, amid the din and
excitement of the populace, they could but imperfectly understand. Ah,
beloved, Christ our Teacher explains and expounds many an obscure saying in
His Word, many an abstruse parable in His providence, and many a profound
problem in our history, upon a couch of suffering, upon a sleepless pillow,
in the house of adversity, in the season of bereavement, and even on a bed
of death. The shadows reveal marvels and beauties of a landscape which the
dazzling rays of the sun darken with their excessive brightness.
The sequestered walks of life, shaded and retired, impart an air of
reality and solemnity to life, which the sunshine of prosperity, bathing the
scene is bright effulgence, veils from view. Oh, what rapid scholars we
become in the school of adversity! How we dive into the mind, and nestle in
the heart of Jesus then! What a new revelation does the ancient Book of God
become to us! How much of our own mysterious being is unveiled, and of our
past inexplicable history is explained, when the heart, isolated from the
world, withdrawn from the creature, at rest from itself, is in repose with
God. And as we emerge from the sacred cloister which has been to us a Bethel
and a Peniel, we exclaim, "Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O Lord, and
teach out of Your love. O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these
things is the life of the spirit."
Be watchful, then, lest the attractions of the world, the anxieties of
life, even the exacting and absorbing influence of religious external
engagements invade the sanctity, encroach upon the solitude of your hidden
walk with God. Be jealous of every object and of every being that would give
Christ one pulse less of your heart, one thought less of your mind, one
moment less of your life. In all things give Him the pre-eminence. Bind the
first and last sheaf of the harvest upon His altar- lay the first-fruits,
and the gleanings of the vintage at His feet- give Him the earliest and the
latest- and entwine Him with your first and last thoughts of love.
He who has declared, "I am the First and the Last," demands and deserves
the first and the last of the life purchased by His blood: youth in its
bloom, age in its golden fruit; yes, life in each stage of its onward and
"My God, I would not coldly offer Thee
The withered hue of feeling's flower,
The fragment of a passing hour,
Gifts which have nothing cost to me.
But, looking down into my heart,
Whatever treasure it has hidden deep,
Whatever talent it would strive to keep,
With these, to You, O God, I part.
I should not dare to bring affections blighted
By the rude blasts of worldliness and pride,
Nor lay a worn-out heart the earth bad slighted
Upon the altar of the Crucified.
But in Life's dewy hours, when hope is on the wing,
My love, myself, my all, to You I bring."