N.B.—Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
THE wave of liberal sentiment which in this country lays irreverent hands upon every thing sacred, and which more and more tends toward bold and open infidelity, the denial of all divine inspiration of the Bible and the enthronement of Reason, has also recently found a voice within the pale of the church of Rome. A rector in the Catholic institute of Paris, Mgr. d'Hulst, has written a pamphlet teaching, in harmony with Dr. Briggs and those of his class, that the Bible as a whole is not an inspired book, but that it contains some inspired dogmas and moral precepts.
The pamphlet was written in defense of doctrines already set forth by M. Loisy in the same institute. The stir which this public teaching of prominent Catholic authorities made, necessitated some prompt action on the part of the Pope, to whom other professors of theology were anxiously looking for some decision. And in consequence Leo has issued an encyclical, declaring the Bible to be inspired in whole and in detail—a verbal inspiration in the original languages.
One cannot help remembering on reading such utterances the very different attitude of former popes toward the Bible, and how the hunting of heretics and the burning of Bibles were important features of papal policy a century or two ago. But now circumstances are changed: the Bible is in the hands of the people, and heretics are too numerous to persecute. But another fact has also become manifest; viz., that it is quite possible for men to reverently accept the Bible as a whole and as verbally inspired of God, and even to go through forms of Bible study, and still to reject or ignore its teachings, if only the mind be firmly fettered in a bondage to false creeds which pervert its solemn truths and make the Word of God seem to support false doctrines.
Only so long as the mind can be thus held in slavery to priests and clerics can the Bible be of any use to the antichristian systems which claim its support. It was because the Papacy doubted its ability to effectually blind the eyes and fetter the consciences of men, that in the days of her power, she sought to conceal the book and to keep it in the sackcloth and ashes of dead languages. But, failing to do this, her present policy is to pose as the friend of the Bible and of Bible study.
It is quite possible, however, that in the not far distant future the truths of the Bible, which now make the character of antichrist so manifest to the household of faith, will show to the world the enormity of her sins and her fitness for destruction; and that this book, which the "infallible" head of the papacy is now virtually forced to admit as inspired in every detail, will be seen to contain the most scathing denunciations of the whole antichristian system, and that it is really her death-warrant.
Father Kolasinski, some time ago, after a very sensational trial, was "unfrocked" and removed from the Roman Catholic priesthood, for insubordination and conduct unbecoming his office. Since then he has bestirred himself amongst the Polish Catholics, and has built "one of the finest churches in the West," furnished "with the finest organ in the city of Detroit," and other matters to correspond. He began preaching in it as an "Independent Church." An agent of Mgr. Satolli, ablegate of the Pope in the United States of America, recently visited Kolasinski; and, as a result of some bargain agreed upon, Father Kolasinski announced to his congregation on February 11 that he would on next Sunday apologize in three languages before his congregation, and do a week's penance, and be received back to the priesthood. He has since done so.r1625 VOL. XV. MARCH 1, 1894. NO. 5.
r1626 THE UNJUST STEWARD.
r1627 APPLYING TRUTH TO ONE'S SELF.
r1628 PERSONAL LIBERTY,—ITS RESPONSIBILITY.
I. QUAR., LESSON X., MAR. 11, GEN. 28:10-22.
Golden Text—"Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee."—Gen. 28:15.
VERSES 10,11. Because of his faith in the promises of God and his appreciation of them, Jacob now undertook a long and lonely journey on foot, and unaccompanied, that he might escape the murderous wrath of his brother. And in so doing he was leaving behind him and practically abandoning the earthly inheritance of flocks and herds, the wealth of his father Isaac, to [R1630 : page 76] Esau his brother, while he went forth empty-handed, with nothing but his staff. But he had what he appreciated more than all else, the blessed inheritance of the Abrahamic covenant, whose fulfilment could not be reasonably expected until the city for which Abraham looked (Heb. 11:10, the Kingdom of God) should be established in the earth. He evidently did not expect temporal blessings, and he actually forsook them; but while he sought first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness, all needful temporal blessings, and more, were added.
VERSES 12-15. Here is sufficient evidence of the correctness of our estimate of Jacob's character, as presented in our last lesson. Jacob was neither condemned nor repudiated by God. On the contrary, his faith and his appreciation of God's promise made him beloved of God; and now, as he was a wanderer from home and family for the sake of his trust in God's promises, God went with him on his lonely journey; and this confirmation of the original covenant must have been most refreshing and strengthening to him. Truly, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"—Rom. 8:31.
A comparison of verse 14 with chap. 22:17 will show that while the Abrahamic covenant was to have a double fulfilment—first, in a literal sense to him and his posterity; and, second, in a spiritual sense to the spiritual children of God of whom Abraham was a type (Rom. 4:17—margin), and who are therefore called the children of Abraham—this covenant makes mention only of the literal fulfilment which is to be realized by Jacob and his descendants—"Israel after the flesh"—as well as by Abraham and Isaac and all the prophets who shall constitute the earthly phase of the Kingdom of God.—See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., Chap. xiv.
The promise to Abraham in part was, "I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore," which language, in the light of subsequent revelations of the Apostles, is seen to signify both a spiritual and an earthly seed, the former being Christ and his body, the Gospel Church (Gal. 3:16,29), and the latter, the literal descendants of Abraham and Jacob—"Israel after the flesh." And in this seed of Abraham and posterity of Jacob, in both the literal and spiritual senses, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. The two phases of the Kingdom will cooperate in the glorious and blessed work of the restitution of all things, foretold by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.—Acts 3:19-21.
VERSE 15 was the blessed assurance to Jacob of that which is now very shortly to be brought to pass, and which is even now beginning to be fulfilled. It signifies the regathering of Israel—often called Jacob; see Rom. 11:26—to the land of promise. It signifies not only their regathering out from among all the nations whither they have been scattered (Ezek. 11:17; 20:34,41; 28:25), but also their coming out of their graves. (Ezek. 37:12-14.) Consequently, at the appointed time (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II.), we expect that Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets and all Israel will be regathered from "the land of the enemy"—the grave, and from among all nations whither they have been scattered, and firmly planted in the land which God sware unto Abraham and unto Isaac and unto Jacob. We expect all this and much more when the city is established for which Abraham looked, and unto the promise of which all the ancient worthies had respect.—See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. III.
VERSES 16-19. Jacob's reverent appreciation of the Lord's communion with him in the dream is commendable. Wherever God communes with his people the place becomes a sanctuary—Bethel, or house of [R1630 : page 77] God. Now the Lord speaks to us through his Word, and we speak to him in prayer;
VERSES 20-22. A realization of God's favor, instead of making Jacob arrogant and haughty, as less noble natures are often affected, led him in humility to a grateful consecration of himself to God, and to a sense of his own unworthiness. The word "if" in this verse might more properly be substituted by the words since, or inasmuch as, because Jacob is not here introducing a condition with God, but is expressing his acceptance of God's promise (of verse 15) to do these things. Then note how moderate were Jacob's desires for temporal blessings. All he craved for the present life were the simple necessaries of existence, while he solemnly obligated himself to tax all that he might in future acquire at the rate of 10 per cent, for the Lord's special service. And there he set up a memorial pillar that that place should ever thereafter be to him a sacred place of worship and a reminder of the goodness of God, of his covenant and of the obligations which he had assumed as a thank-offering to the Lord.
This grateful consecration on Jacob's part was a voluntary offering, not from constraint, but from love and gratitude. And in the course of all the ancient worthies who shall inherit the earthly phase of the Kingdom we see the same spirit of grateful sacrifice, which is only excelled by that of our Lord Jesus and those who closely follow in his footsteps, freely consecrating and actually sacrificing, not only one tenth, but all that they have—even unto death—that they may thereby accomplish the work which God has given them to do, and prove their worthiness of the covenant blessings to the spiritual house of Israel and seed of Abraham.
Those who have thus solemnly covenanted to present themselves as living sacrifices together with Christ, that thereby they may be heirs together with him of the spiritual blessings vouchsafed in this Abrahamic covenant, would do well to mark with what faithfulness the heirs of the earthly inheritance paid their vows unto the Most High. Mark also how thoroughly they were tested, and how bravely they stood the tests applied; and from their noble examples let us take courage while we run our race, inspired by the exceeding great and precious promises hidden for us also in that Abrahamic covenant. If Jacob asked no more than the actual necessities for the present life, surely we may be satisfied with nothing more; while we look for a still more glorious inheritance in the promised time of blessing. "Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content."—1 Tim. 6:8.
Yet it is to be feared that many who covenant to sacrifice their all in the Lord's service actually render far less than one tenth. The size of our sacrifice is the measure of our love and zeal in the Lord's service; and time and influence, as well as financial ability, are parts of our possessions to be rendered to the Lord as thank-offerings, while out of that consecrated to him the things needful for our sustenance may be retained in harmony with the spirit of our covenant.
And, while we run, let us remember for our consolation the promise to Jacob, and through him to us—"Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee." "Faithful is he who hath called you, who also will do it."—1 Thes. 5:24.
I. QUAR., LESSON XI., MAR. 18, PROV. 20:1-7.
Golden Text—"Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."—Prov. 20:1.
The moral precepts of this lesson need little comment; but it is well for all to lay them to heart. There can be no vital piety where the simple precepts of morality are ignored. He who would live godly must, at the outset, abandon every vile and evil thing—must seek to purify the earthen vessel, and pray for divine grace to keep it so, and he must earnestly strive against all the downward tendencies of his fallen nature.
It has been well said that the intemperate use of spiritous liquors is an apt illustration of the course and effects of sin in general. It benumbs the sensibilities, beclouds and stupefies the judgment, weakens the will, enslaves and degrades the whole man, and finally wrecks his health and all his manly hopes and aspirations, and brings him in haste and disgrace to the grave.
Yet, while this vice is a visible and most prominent illustration of the course and effects of sin, such is the actual tendency of all sin, though its effects may not always be [R1631 : page 78] so visible, nor so hateful, nor so rapidly ruinous. All sin is intolerable in the sight of God; and to love and cherish it in its less obnoxious and more secret forms is as worthy of condemnation as enslavement to its grosser forms. Only those who abhor sin in all its forms, and who strive against the sinward tendencies of their fallen nature, and who, because of such realized and acknowledged tendencies, avail themselves of the robe of Christ's righteousness through faith in his precious blood as their ransom price, are acceptable to God. Let us flee, therefore, from every sin, and from every appearance of evil; and let us manifest our hatred of sin by a continual and lifelong striving against it; and day by day and year by year will manifest more and more of a mastery over it.
Below we add some statistics showing in figures something of the immense expense of the single sin of intemperance in the use of spiritous liquors; yet we may safely say that the half cannot be told in any such way. But who can compute the enormous expense of the whole retinue of sins, great and small, to our fallen and enslaved humanity? What enormous expense of misery and wretchedness has been incurred, for instance, by the intemperate propagation of the human species, begotten in sin, shapen in iniquity, and brought forth with the deeply engraven hereditary marks of sin into a world of temptations, deceptions and snares!
Spirits withdrawn, including
fruit brandy—gallons,........ 89,554,919
12 per cent, used in the arts,. 10,746,589
Consumed as beverage, —————
gallons @ $4.50,.............. $354,637,485
gallons @ 50 cents,........... 487,123,931
gallons @ $2.00,.............. 50,000,000
Imported beer,................. 3,051,898
Imported wines,................ 40,000,000
Total in 1891,................. $934,813,314
Estimated increase spirits in
Actual increase beer,.......... 21,070,963
Increase domestic and imported
Total, 1892,................... $1,000,884,277
Authority, F. N. Barrett.
Consumption of liquors per capita
U.S. population in 1892,...... $15.28
Total expenditures of the U.S.
Government 1892 per capita of
Total cost of U.S. Government aside
from war debt and pensions per
capita of population,............. 2.53
Spirits, beer, etc., per day per person, 4 + cts.
All government expenditures 1892
per day per person,................... 1 + cts.
I. QUAR., LESSON XII., MAR. 25, HEB. 11:1-20.
Golden Text—"I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."—Matt. 22:32.
"Now is Christ risen from the dead."—1 Cor. 15:20.
The term "Easter" occurs but one place in the Bible (Acts 12:4), where it signifies the passover. There is no precedent in the Scriptures for the Easter festivals which have been celebrated with pomp and ceremony in the Roman and Greek Catholic churches, where, it is said, it was introduced to displace a pagan festival, the only change being in name. But, while avoiding the multiplying of the forms of godliness, whose tendency is to impoverish its spirit, it is quite in place for Christians to reverently and joyfully call to mind the Lord's resurrection on its anniversary. The birth, death and resurrection of our Lord are the three circumstances of his first advent which should be remembered by every child of God with reverent thanksgiving and praise. His birth was the dawn of hope for our race, as Simeon said, "Now...mine eyes have seen thy salvation;" his death was the seal of pardon and peace to every believer in his precious blood; and his resurrection was the assurance which God gave to all [R1631 : page 79] men of the efficacy of his precious blood and of their consequent privilege of sharing the ransom blessing of restitution by faith and obedience.
The resurrection of Jesus is the guarantee of God's expressed purpose to restore to life and to all the blessings of his favor all of the human race who come unto God by him. And it is in view of this fact, that God declares himself the God of the living, and not of the dead, for they all live unto him (Luke 20:37,38)—in his purpose. And, because of this also, our Lord spoke of death as a sleep,—in view of the awakening in the morning of the resurrection.
Death implies extinction; for if once condemned by God as unworthy of life, there being no chance for reform or change in death ("In death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks!") it follows that there could be no hope in death. But what man could not do for himself God has done for him through Christ,—He has redeemed man from the death sentence and provided for the reawakening of all. Therefore God does not think of us as dead (annihilated), but as sleeping until the Millennial morning.
It is interesting to note with what carefulness the important facts of the death and resurrection of the Lord are noted in the Scriptures: that so our faith and hope might be firmly established; for, said the Apostle, "If Christ be not risen, your hope is vain." The precautions, too, were taken not by the Lord's friends, but by his enemies.—Matt. 27:62-66; John 19:34,35.r1630 "OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT."
N.B.—Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
[A Brother who was at one time a prominent Mason, but who has since discontinued his relationship with the Order, believing that he can spend time and money to better advantage as a member of the "Royal Priesthood," sends us the following from the Chicago Inter Ocean of March 7, and adds:—"Every Mason is now in honor bound to remain by the 'Ancient and Honorable Order.' Thank God for his opening, permitting my escape before this. Every Mason who now escapes from this 'bundle' must, in addition to the loss of many agreeable associations, submit to a painful singeing of his honor, so-called, and which will be worse with every day's delay."]
"Beyond doubt Mayor Hopkins intends to cut out every member of the society now in the city's employ. Nothing has been done openly, but the quiet tip has gone around that every Mason may expect his discharge.
"There is danger of offence, danger of apostasy. Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall! Never was it more important that a Christian should be Christlike. Before God, I think that we are to follow our Lord through a dark valley, and to drink a bitter cup. There is a mighty movement toward the consummation of all unbelief and opposition to the Lord's Anointed: a movement long ago forewarned, yet none the less terrible as it sweeps over Christian lands. We see many wise, mighty and learned fascinated with its falsehood, and giving to it the weight of their influence and genius. But we wait—'how long, O Lord, how long!'—for the day when the lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low, and the Lord alone shall be exalted. For 'I know that my Redeemer liveth; and that I shall stand in the latter day upon the earth; whom I shall see for myself; and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.'"
He has supplied a copy free to all the colporteurs known to desire them and has donated a quantity to the Tract Fund. These we now offer to any who may desire them at fifty cents per copy. The receipts will go to forward the general work.r1632 VOL. XV. MARCH 15, 1894. NO. 6.
r1632 THE FINANCIAL STRAIN WORLD-WIDE.
r1633 STRIVING LAWFULLY.
r1633 "OUR SUFFICIENCY IS OF GOD."
II. QUAR., LESSON I., APRIL 1, GEN. 32:9-12,24-30.
Golden Text—"I will not let thee go except thou bless me."—Gen. 32:26.
The journey of Jacob back to the land of his nativity and to the presence of a presumably hostile brother, now wealthy and powerful, and from whose face he had fled for his life some twenty or perhaps forty years previous, was another evidence of his faith in God and of his respect for, and valuation of, the promises of God, whose fulfilment could be expected only in a far distant future, between which and the present the Jordan of death rolled. Like Abraham, he looked for a city whose builder and maker is God—the New Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God on earth. He knew that Abraham had died in faith not having realized the promises, and he was willing to likewise patiently wait.
This return from Padan-aram to the land of Canaan, the land of promise, can by no means be considered the fulfilment of the promise of possession of the land, the whole land of Canaan, for himself and his posterity for an everlasting possession, as some teach. And that Jacob did not so regard [R1634 : page 92] it is very manifest from his message to Esau on coming into the land—"And he commanded them [his servants] saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau, Thy servant Jacob saith thus, etc." (Gen. 32:3,4.) To such a claim the Apostle Paul gives most emphatic denial, and shows that this promise never was fulfilled to them; nor has it even yet been fulfilled to their posterity, though it most assuredly will be, both to them, and to their posterity, at the time appointed. Paul says "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed....By faith he sojourned [moved about, not settling down as an owner] in the land of promise as in a strange country, dwelling in tents [temporary, movable dwellings] with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he looked for a city [an established Kingdom] which hath foundations [permanence], whose builder and maker is God....These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but, having seen them afar off, were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."—Heb. 11:9,10,13.
After forty years' absence from home, Jacob was ready at the Lord's command (Gen. 31:3,11-13; 28:15,20,21; 32:9) to return. Experience had taught him confidence in God and lack of confidence in his uncle Laban. Jacob was now ninety-seven years old, and rich in flocks and herds; and with his wives and twelve sons he started on the then long journey of four hundred and fifty miles, humanly fearful of the consequences, yet, notwithstanding his fears, boldly walking out on the promises of God.
VERSES 9-12. This is the first recorded prayer in the Bible, and it is beautifully humble, simple and trustful, and was acceptable to God. Verse 9 is a reverent and trustful address to the God of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, recalling the divine command and promise of protection. (31:3,11-13.) Verse 10 disclaims any personal worthiness of this divine favor, not only of present protection and care, but also of "the truth," the precious promises granted unto him. Then he thankfully acknowledges the blessings already received. While with his staff only he had passed over the Jordan, now he had become two bands. This much in fulfilment of the promise of a numerous posterity—"as the sand of the sea-shore."
VERSES 24-28. In answer to Jacob's fervent, trustful prayer God sent an angel, evidently to comfort and direct him. But Jacob was anxious for more than comfort and direction in mere temporal things, and all night therefore he pleaded with the angel for some special evidence of divine favor beyond temporal things. The angel, too, had a blessing in store for him, but delayed its bestowal until the break of day, that Jacob might have a chance of proving the strength of his desire and appreciation of the divine favor. Thus God would have all his children "strive to enter in" to the blessings promised, and to "fight the good fight of faith," and so lay hold on eternal life. We may not listlessly drift into the divine favor. We must greatly appreciate and earnestly seek for it. As another test of Jacob's faith and earnestness, instead of the desired blessing came a severe affliction—probably what is now known as sciatica, a most painful affliction of the sciatic nerve. But even this affliction did not in the least dissuade Jacob from his desire and determination to have, if possible, some special evidence of divine favor. Still he plead with the angel of the Lord.
And the angel said, "Let me go, for the day breaketh." And Jacob answered, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." Then came the blessing, a blessing worthy of the night's striving, and one which doubtless made his affliction seem comparatively light. Like Paul's thorn in the flesh, the affliction became but a reminder of the promise and favor of God, and served doubtless to keep him from being unduly elated.
"And the angel saith unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."
In these words was couched the future glory and exaltation of Jacob as a prince in the earthly, visible phase of the Kingdom of God. "Ye shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of God." (Luke 13:28; Matt. 8:11. See also Psa. 45:16 and MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., Chapter xiv.) Jacob was satisfied. And now, but one [R1634 : page 93] more thing he would ask—Was it for relief from his affliction? No; but he would know the name of his benefactor, this messenger of the Lord, that he might hold him in lasting and grateful remembrance. "And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?" He would have Jacob understand that the blessing was from God, whose messenger he was, and therefore he did not tell his name. The case is parallel to that of Manoah and the angel that visited him: "And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass I may do thee honor? And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?" Thus the true messengers of God always [R1635 : page 93] seek to give the honor unto God, and decline it for themselves.—See Rev. 19:10; John 14:28; Acts 3:12.
Thus Jacob was blessed again as at Bethel. The darkest seasons of his life were the special occasions for the manifestation of divine favor. And so the children of God ever find it when in their fears and perplexities they come to God for rest and consolation.
VERSE 30. "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel; for [said he] I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." Here and in other instances the Hebrew word rendered God is elohim, meaning mighty one—a representative of God. "No man hath seen God at any time."—John 1:18.
II. QUAR., LESSON II., APRIL 8, GEN. 37:1-11.
Golden Text—"See that ye fall not out by the way."—Gen. 45:24.
The slow rate at which the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob of a numerous posterity were being fulfilled is quite noteworthy here. It was now two centuries since Abraham was called, and yet his posterity were but few. Jacob was now one hundred and nine years old, and had but twelve sons and one daughter. But they were well-born children, desired and welcomed, and considered gifts of God (Gen. 29:32-35; 30:6-13,17-24),—and they were taught to reverence God and his promises. Yet over against these good influences were others less favorable—(1) The conditions of a polygamous home, with four sets of children, were not those which tend to peace and harmony and love in the family. Such a home was not after God's institution, but, as the Apostle Paul intimates, "the times of this ignorance God winked at." (See our issue of Nov. 1, '92; Article, The Law of God.) (2) They came in contact with an immoral heathen community, both in Haran and in Shechem. (3) And their shepherd life, caring for large flocks and herds which must necessarily be widely scattered, separated them from home and gave them much leisure for either good or evil.
The experience of Joseph here introduced was the beginning of a train of providential circumstances which gave to the children of Israel the very necessary experience in Egypt in contact with the highest civilization and learning the world had then realized. There they remained under peculiar circumstances of discipline and training for four hundred years; and there as a people they learned to some extent the important lesson of humility and faith in the love and power of God.
Joseph, a bright boy of seventeen and the special favorite of his father because he was a son of his old age and a very exemplary son, seemed to incur the displeasure of his brethren through envy on their part and guilelessness on his own. The elder brethren, instead of sharing the father's love for their young and promising brother, were envious of him and could not speak peaceably to him. Joseph was innocent and unaware of the malice that their envy was fast engendering, and was shocked at what he did see and know of their misconduct, and very naturally reported the state of affairs to his father on his return home.
Then, too, in his artlessness he told them his very significant dreams, which he probably did not understand, but which they interpreted as an indication of his future supremacy; and this, together with their knowledge of his father's special favor, probably made them fear a future supremacy, which idea they could not endure. Hence the plot to get him out of the way. Envy and hatred fast matured their bitter fruitage of a murderous spirit and intent. While God permitted all the sons of Jacob to thus manifest their disposition, he stood ready to overrule their course of conduct for the furtherance of his purposes. Thus [R1635 : page 94] the overruling providence of God is always compatible with man's free agency.
The coat of many colors—a royal garment—which Jacob gave to Joseph, probably was also interpreted by the brethren as an indication of the father's purpose to bestow the chief blessing on him, the eldest son of the second wife, since Reuben, the eldest son of the first wife, had already forfeited it.—Gen. 49:4.
The dreams of Joseph were quite prophetic of his later supremacy in Egypt, when his father and brethren all came in the extremity of famine to do him honor and to receive of his bounty. Doubtless also the impression they made on his mind by them proved a source of comfort and cheer in the midst of severe trials and temptations in Egypt, before he was summoned to the seat of power and influence.
The envy of Joseph's brethren, although eventually overruled in harmony with God's promise to Abraham, brought upon them severe experiences and bitterness. Envy is one of the indigenous fruits of the fallen nature: itself bad, it is almost sure to lead to every evil work; and, unless corrected, it will eventuate in death.r1635 ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.