And Jacob their father said to them, Me have you bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not…
1. That men may be brought by very different ways to think that all things are against them. Jacob was brought to despond by the simple pressure of adverse circumstances. It was the loss of his children that made him utter the words of my text. Joseph and Simeon were gone. Benjamin was apparently to go next. It was indeed too much for a father's heart. But I wish you to observe, that it had in it nothing of the bitterness of sin. I do not say that Jacob's adversity might not be connected with the faults of his early life. Most probably the judgment of God it was. But I mean that his sorrows were not of a kind to bring his sins to remembrance. I think if the sons of Jacob had said, "all these things are against us," they would have had much more reason for uttering these words than had their father. Depend upon it, it is when our faults have brought us into trouble — when our punishment is the legitimate child of our sins — it is then that we have most reason for believing and for saying, that "the hand of the Lord is against us." And yet I would have you observe, that even in the case of Joseph's brethren, who were now in his power, and locked by his command in prison, it was not true that all things were against them. Little as they might deserve it, God's hand was over them for good. Thus they were on the eve of prosperity; for, however strange it may seem, still it was certainly true, that the sin of these men against their brother was not only the means of their own prosperity, but was likewise a link in the grand chain of God's providential dealings with the whole race of mankind.
2. Every one knows how frequently he is wrong in his forebodings of evil — how circumstances of evil which he feared would prove fatal to his happiness have turned out entirely different from that which he feared — how often has it been the jaundice of his own eyes, and no defect of the light of heaven, which has made all around him wear a melancholy tint. And, therefore, upon mere general grounds, we strongly condemn those who are always faint hearted, and those who magnify disasters and difficulties in fancying that all things are against them.
3. But I have showed you that there is a divinely appointed way of viewing the circumstances in which we find ourselves placed, so that, by the help of this, we may foresee that they are really for us, when they seem to be against us. Yes, there is such a divinely appointed mode, and if I can only help some of you to look on your condition here upon earth, in that way which God has revealed and has made palpable through His most blessed Son, I shall feel sure that I have not spoken to you in vain. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God? Then, if you do, you will find it impossible to prove that in any condition of life all things can be against you. You will feel an assurance which nothing on earth or hell can shake, that God Himself is for you. Let me take two or three cases by way of example. In the first place, let us take a case of poverty. I suppose that there is nothing so likely to make a man say to himself that all things are against him, as being poor. Jesus Christ was a poor man too. You cannot be so poor as He. What honest man is there without a home? But again, there is a much worse enemy to be found in this world than poverty, and in sight of this enemy, I do not wonder that a person who remembers our Lord's words concerning the narrow road of life, and the broad road of destruction, should sometimes be dismayed. I allude to the fact, that every condition of life, and every period of life, is full of temptation to go astray from the ways of God and of heaven. Christ, by whose name we are called, and whose soldiers we are, condescended to be tempted himself. But again, a man may be brought to the conclusion that all things are against him by the same kind of painful experience as that which made Jacob utter the words of the text. It was the hand of God taking away what was dearest to the heart that made Jacob groan with a sense of the deepest misery. I do not think we need inquire whether Jacob was or was not excusable for uttering this lamentation. God was the judge of this. But we may well remark, that myriads of persons since then have been afflicted in the same manner, and many have given way to the same lament. He who believes on Jesus Christ must never say, under the weight of any affliction, "all these things are against me," because, under the weight of those sorrows which were put upon Christ, He never uttered such words. Once more, let me allude to that moment in every human life which brings a man into immediate contact with the unseen world. Let me speak of death, that one only event which is certain to every one present. It is well for us, while we are in health, and have the use of our faculties, to consider what impression will be made on us when we feel our strength decaying, and are assured either by age or sickness, that our work will soon be done. It is a terrible thing for a man, then, to feel that all is against him; and, no doubt, this feeling does often give rise to very happy results; but, I believe, that this is not the usual result. Certainly, according to my own experience, it is far from being so. I think that, in general, they who have not found out how much there is against them during their life, and how much has to be done in order to cut through the obstacles which stand between their souls and God — I think that they do not find this out in death. They who have lived carelessly, generally die carelessly too.
(Bp. Harvey Goodwin.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.