I. WE MUST EXPECT TO FIND PITFALLS IN LIFE. To Joseph the snare came suddenly. He was forced in. He had acted as he believed rightly in revealing the wicked deeds of his brethren, and he suffers for it. His brothers seize the first opportunity of bringing reprisals upon him for what they considered his officiousness. When alone they seized him. They were ten men to one stripling. Coward brothers! "In with him," they say. In the pit's depth is security, in its dryness speedy death. The pitfalls into which many stumble or into which they are drawn are such as these: circumstances being altogether unfavorable in life; or severe and overpowering temptations to some special sin, as intemperance, passion, or lust; or greed, or ambition, or spiritual pride. Debt, loss of character, and despondency are also deep pitfalls. If we come to love evil for itself, that is a very deep pit, and it adjoins that state which is hopeless. Many are drawn into these pits by carelessness, indifference, and neglect, while others are so entangled by circumstances and conditions of birth that the wonder is that they ever escape.
II. THERE IS OFTEN DELIVERANCE FROM THE DEEPEST PITFALLS. To Joseph it came at the right moment. It came in response to earnest desire. The brothers thought to make a profit by his deliverance, but God was saving him through their avarice and timidity. Joseph was helpless. His brothers had to lift him out. We must feel our helplessness, and then Christ is sure to deliver us from the pit of sin and despair. The brothers of Joseph had low and mercenary aims in lifting up their brother; Jesus is all love and self-sacrifice in the effort to save us. Nothing but the long line of his finished work and fervent love could reach souls. When brought up from the pit we shall not be inclined to praise ourselves. We shall ascribe all the glory to him who "brought us up out of the deep pit and fairy clay, and placed our feet upon a rock, and established our goings." - H.
I. THE HABIT IS DEPENDENT ON PREDISPOSITION. The sanguine are "without doubt" of success, where the cautious are "without doubt" of disaster. The despondent regard the world through darkened spectacles. It is no wonder that their prospects seem gloomy.
II. THE HABIT IS ENCOURAGED BY APPEARANCES. To Jacob appearances were sadly significant. What more evidence could be wanted? We should remember that all appearances may be against the true facts.
III. THE HABIT LEADS TO GREVIOUS MISTAKES. Jacob's verdict was "without doubt." Nevertheless, it was a wrong verdict. We talk of the evil of doubt. There are evils of positiveness.
IV. THE HABIT IS POSITIVELY MISCHIEVOUS. It causes distress when we are needlessly positive of a painful surmise. It does more harm. It paralyses our efforts to better a gloomy state of affairs.
V. THE HABIT MAY BE A PUNISHMENT OF FORMER UNTRUTHFULNESS. In his youth Jacob deceived his father; in his old age Jacob was deceived by his sons. He was cunning and wily. Yet he was over-reached, and suffered from the trickery of others. Worldly acuteness is no security against deception in matters that lie nearest to our heart. The fox may be out witted, while the lamb is spared in its simplicity. Application: See how the coprinciples work in various directions.
1. Domestic anxiety. Parents are often inclined to dread the worst of absent children lost to sight, and perhaps unheard of for years. Yet they may be as safe and prosperous as Joseph became.
2. Prospects for life.
3. Our spiritual condition.
(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)
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