THE STOREHOUSES OPENED
"So with severe famine everywhere in the land, Joseph
opened up all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians." Genesis
He has much to learn, who has not found a garland of
delights in Joseph's story. The variety of incident, the rapidly changing
scene, the crowded picture of man in every character and every
circumstance, make it a choice pleasure-ground for young and old, for
peasant and for sage. The sacred pen, pointed by heaven, and deeply dipped
in the human heart, enters each chamber, in which feeling dwells. We weep
with the weeping father; we grieve in his protracted grief; we revive, when
he lives again in his son restored. We tremble with the youth trembling in
the pit. We sigh with him sighing in his exile. We take courage with him
trampling on his temptation. We are disconsolate with him, disconsolate in
his dungeon. We triumph with him, when he surmounts reproach, and takes his
seat as the ruler of a mighty empire.
But the grand value of the narrative is not the simple
style, the tender pathos, the amazing events, the winding thread of
providential arrangement, or the happy end. These lead the mind through
luxuriant fields of captivating interest. But if this be all, the profit is
as a fading flower, or as a morning gleam. He only gains, who gains a
blessing for his soul. The soul is the real man. All else is earthly as
earth; and transient as time. The book, the employment, the companion, the
scene, which adds not to spiritual store, whatever may be the seeming
promise or the present attraction, is an injury, an enemy, a poison, and a
The Scripture before us is precious, because every view
of Joseph exhibits Jesus! Who is the envied, and hated, and rejected of
his brethren? Who is the sold for pieces of silver; the cast out into Egypt;
the numbered with the transgressors; the apparent culprit between two
offenders, of whom one is exalted, the other perishes? Who is raised from
the prison to the right hand of majesty? In all these outlines, is not Jesus
seen? He it is on whose shoulder the government is laid. He it is, who
rescues His kindred from perishing. He it is, whose heart yearned over them,
when they knew Him not. He it is, to whom the perishing must flee. He it is,
who has the key of all supplies. The name is Joseph. The true image is
But the text of this chapter limits our view to one
feature of this spacious picture. The bounty diffused by Joseph is
the bounty which is in Jesus. Let us draw near, then, to this
treasury of treasuries. And may the Spirit, sweet in His omnipotence, and
omnipotent in His sweetness, open our eyes to see its fullness—and our hands
to take of it!
The narrative discloses a universal misery.
Affliction in an appalling form brooded over a paralyzed world. The staff of
life failed. Hunger presided grimly at every board. The pallid cheeks, the
hollow voice, told the sad tale of death begun. But amid all the
hopelessness there is hope. Storehouses had been filled with grain; and
Joseph was appointed, as a minister of mercy, to deal out relief.
The glad tidings fly gladly through the land. Crowds
throng the life-restoring gates. Do you ask, why is there speed in every
step—and eagerness in every look? Hunger touches them with an iron grasp.
Home gives no hope. In toil there is no help. Only one can relieve. To
linger is to die. To apply to Joseph is to regain abundance. They rush from
ruin into remedy. Here we see the starving sinner fleeing unto Jesus!
There is a day, in which poor man sits careless in the hovel of his
need—content with husks of his own procuring. But when light from on high
reveals his impoverished state, then a very earthquake shakes the whole
fabric of his delusion. He finds that, as a terrific famine, sin sucks his
life-blood. In mercy's hour he hears, "You yet may live. There is bread
enough, and to spare, in Jesus." What now can keep him back? He bounds over
all mountains of difficulty: he wades through all oceans of hindrance: he
strides over all opposing taunts and sneers: he breaks every detaining
fetter. You may tie the winds with a thread: you may allay the storm with a
word: you may sweep back the ocean with a feather, but you cannot stop the
awakened sinner, who hungers for a crumb of mercy, and who knows that
to reach Jesus is to have all-sufficiency forever.
But perhaps I address some, who have not fled in rapid
flight towards this one center of relief. Awake, awake, before you
sleep the sleep of death! Do you not know that your land is famine-stricken?
It is so. Sin, as a desolating waste, has ravaged all the field of human
nature. It yields no healthful pastures for the soul. It has no regaling
fruits with juice of life. It is only a rank wilderness of thorns, and
briers, and noxious weeds. You must get heavenly manna, or you die!
The hands of Jesus alone dispense it. Will you not, then, arise and seek
Others, with some consciousness of peril, and some
efforts to escape, yet pine and languish. They set forth in search of food.
But Satan's false sign-posts mislead them. So they turn aside to granaries,
which 'error' has erected, and which 'self' has furnished. Here they feed on
the empty bubbles of outward rites, and forms, and unsubstantial religious
show. The cravings of sense and imagination may be satisfied.
But sense and imagination are not the soul.
Others advance farther, and yet never reach the coffers
in which saving treasure is laid up. It may be, they pause at the
portals of God's word. This guide is indeed divine. In every word of
every verse the voice from heaven speaks. But to listen to instruction is
not safety. The knowledge of the storehouse, is not food for the
famishing. Ah! miserable woe, to fall into hell with Scripture on the
Others rest in the Church as their sufficient aid.
It is indeed a heaven-raised fabric. It is the pillar and ground of the
truth. It warns and teaches. But it can neither give nor retain life. Ah!
miserable woe, to drop into hell from the scaffold of salvation!
Others feed only on Sacraments. These are indeed
ordained of God, as precious signs and seals of grace; but signs are not the
substance, neither are seals the deeds. Ah! miserable woe, to enter hell
with Sacramental elements in the hands!
Others are content with the refreshment, which faithful
ministers afford. They are indeed the stewards of Christ's mysteries,
the heralds of His grace, the under-shepherds of the flock. It is their
province to go in and out before the sheep. But the true nourishment
of the soul is not kept by them. Ah! miserable woe, to enter hell through
the schools of heaven!
Others delight themselves in labors for Christ's
name. Works are indeed the evidence of faith, and shoots from its
root. But the evidence is not the motive—the shoot is not the root. Ah!
miserable woe, to lie down in hell in a garb of outward godliness!
Reader! believe me, to obtain support, and grace, and
life, we must go directly unto Jesus! No hands but His deal out
supplies. Does any tremblingly inquire, "Will a ready welcome meet my suit?"
Myriads have sought, and all have found. He never yet sent suppliants away.
The decree is sure—"Him who comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out." His
character varies not: "He has filled the hungry with good things." The
silver tone of the call yet sounds; "Eat, O friends; drink, yes, drink
abundantly, O beloved."
Do you further ask, "What are the provisions of this
banquet-house?" I could more easily count ocean's sands, than tell the
plenteousness, which is here spread. "Hear, O you heavens, and give ear, O
earth." The Lord gives His body and His blood for food. "My flesh is food
indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." Faith stretches out an eager hand,
and adoringly partakes. But how? Not with carnal lip. The thought is heresy.
Reason scorns it. Infidelity derides it. Scripture denies it. All experience
rejects it as a pitiful and profitless conceit. No. Faith takes and
digests the feast with the pure and holy relish of the heart! The hidden
manna is the savory truth of Christ's body given, and Christ's blood poured
out for sin. The spiritual reception of this fact is strength, and vigor—not
to a crumbling house of clay—but to a new-born, ever-living soul. The inner
man thus nourished, fights, with a giant's might, the fight of faith, and
mounts up with eagles' wings towards Zion's heights.
Here, too, we gain the full nourishment of precious
promises and Scripture-truths. When the Lord's hand applies them, then
every word is spirit and is life. The poor, the weary, and the heavy-laden
come. Trials, afflictions, and temptations weigh them down. They crave
support, and they find it in gracious testimonies, and refreshing tokens of
eternal love. Like Jonathan, they taste the honey. Their eyes are lightened,
and their spirits cheered.
Indeed, there is no sustenance for Christian life, which
is not here provided. It is a grand word, "It pleased the Father that in Him
should all fullness dwell." Fullness not for Himself, for He is glorious as
God can be—but that He may replenish weary pilgrims. As the sun is light and
gives light—so Jesus is grace, and diffuses grace. The one experience of all
His suppliants is, "Of His fullness have all we received, and grace for
grace." The empty return full. The impoverished are made rich. The weak
become strong. The faint revive. The drooping are renewed in vigor. The
famished are fed. To some there was a tedious journey to the storehouses of
Joseph. But the rapid flight of faith brings us in one moment to the
depository of grace. Perhaps there were appointed hours, at which
Joseph distributed the grain. The gates of Jesus are widely open day and
night. Crowds might be detained by Joseph, while others were relieved. Jesus
is always waiting to give ready ear. The Egyptian granaries, though very
full, might be exhausted. Our supply is not in a cistern, but in an
ever-flowing spring. The contents are as deep as infinity, as boundless as
God. The Egyptians are required to purchase. We receive all, without money,
and without price. Over the Gospel-mart is inscribed, "Ask, and you shall
Do you perish for need of the bread of life? Remember,
you are unfed, because you will not feed—you starve, because you will not
take. Are you as a sapless plant with little fruit and scanty shoots? It is
because you rarely seek the Joseph of the Gospel. But think again. "He gives
more grace." He has come, that you might have life, and that you might have
it more abundantly. Child of God, you have drawn near. You know how quickly
to your cry the door flew open. You sued for pardon. It was granted. You
sought for joy and peace. Your heart was filled. You told your need of light
and guidance. Directing rays shone brightly on your path. A suppliant eye
longed for some tokens of a Savior's love. Soon you beheld his heart,
engraven with your name—bleeding for your ransom.
Now, go and show your gratitude. You best can do this by
constant coming to the Storehouse door. Jesus ever stands to open. Will not
you ever stand to knock? He lives a life to give. Will not you live a life
to take and to dispense?