And Jacob their father said to them, Me have you bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not…
There is nothing more characteristic or more striking in the nature of man than the alternations often very rapid — to which he is subject of seasons of self-confidence and gloom.
I. A NATURAL EXCLAMATION.
1. Human nature in similar circumstances is continually making it. I might go further, and say that human nature, even after it has been strengthened and elevated by Christianity, is still continually prone to pass this judgment upon the providence of God. When lately the edifice of fortune, which perhaps long years of energy and honesty had piled, was in an instant stricken as by a bolt from heaven, and fell crumbling around you, leaving you all unsheltered in a cold, unpitying world, could you see a proof of infinite tenderness, a sign of happiness, in the smoking ruins at your feet?
2. Human nature cannot by itself do otherwise than give this answer. There is, and can be found, no comfort, no strengthening, for man in mere nature, and man himself has an instinctive consciousness of this. The highest effort of philosophy, strictly so called, was simply to harden man — to cure his wounded sensibilities by first destroying them. Christianity alone can lay open to man's tearful gaze the vision of two worlds, and, pouring its sustaining, enlightening influences into his soul, enable him to apprehend the truth that "the sufferings," &c. (Romans 8:18).
II. AIDS TO FAITH FURNISHED BY REASON AND EXPERIENCE. Are there not considerations furnished to us from these sources which should lead us to regard all God's dealings with us, even those which seem to us the heaviest and darkest, as not really against us, but for us?
1. We should be led to this conclusion by the consideration of God's character. "God is love," and "I, the Lord, change not."
2. We should be led to this conclusion by the consideration of our own present ignorance in all things. What can we see of the outgoings of the All-wise and the All-good other than the veriest hem of His garment? We see a few isolated facts, but the hidden connections, the far reaching purposes, the eternal consequences of the mighty plan are entirely covered up from our eyes. You have sometimes seen from a hill-side, a valley over the undulating floor of which there has been laid out a heavy mantle of mist. The spires of the churches rise above it. Here and there you seem to catch the glistening of a roof or of a vane. Here and there a higher house, or some little eminence, or some tree-tops islanded in vapour, are beheld. But the lower and connecting objects — the linking line of the roads, the plan and foundation of the whole — are completely hidden from our gaze. And this is just the view which is permitted to us of the providence of God. We see a few isolated facts, and that is all. How absurd then, in reason, to attempt to determine the character of the Divine dealings with us upon such a view! How unjust are we when we do so to our God!
3. We should be led to a patient submission to God's will, and a belief that even His severest visitations are the effects and evidences of His love, from a consideration of the present moral effects of trial and suffering manifested to us by experience.
(1) This discipline is generally necessary to break off our connections with this world and to fix them on heaven. We should want no better rest if all were peace here. We should want no deeper joy if no blackness of affliction ever rested on our earthly path.
(2) Only thus can the highest style of character be formed. Affliction gives balance to the character, softens the asperities of nature, gives tone and depth to all our emotions, and places us nearer to the Son of Man, who was also the Son of God.Concluding lessons:
1. Contentment. This a day of great hopes, desires, endeavours, and disappointments.
2. Trust in God (Job 13:15).
(W. Rudder, D. D.)
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.