« PreviousContinue »
God's light of inspiration altogether thereby extinguished. And even when he spoke unadvisedly, or at least when he wrote down by God's direction what he had unadvisedly spoken, in the midst of the dark cloud of human wilfulness we discern the light of divine truth.
These views, if just, will help us to account for much that is most striking and instructive, intermixed with Job's words of murmuring. It was Satan who suggested complaints against God's dealings. It was from the Spirit of God that Job had learnt how to describe the relief which death yields to the afflicted, in terms which seem beyond the reach of man's ability. Let us learn then, as from God telling us, how sure and how sweet is the rest provided for the suffering Christian in the asylum of the grave. Whatever vexations here beset our path, “ There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest." Whatever bondage we here fall into, “ There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor. The small and great are there, and the servant is free from his master;" that is to say, the slave is free from his lord. Only let us remember, that this holds not good in the slavery of sin; but rather the contrary is the case. In order to be free in death, we must be delivered from the power of sin whilst yet we live. For they who live and die in Satan's service, become at death his bondsmen for evermore.
Such reflexions we may profitably make on so much of Job's lamentation as appears to have been expressed under a divine impulse. But as to Job's murmuring because trouble came upon him, though he had not allowed himself to feel secure in his prosperity, and as to his complaining questions, “ Why died I not from the womb ?” and again, “ Why is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul ?” to these we may make answer, applying the answer to ourselves, if ever we are tempted to be weary of our lives: It is because life is a blessing, even to them that are most sorely afflicted; it is because life on earth is the way to life eternal in the heavens. It is because a life of trouble is often the safest and the surest way to an eternity of happiness. It is because, if we suffer here with Christ, we shall be also glorified together. Happy therefore they who share Christ's cross, for they shall share his throne! Happy they who instead of repining under trouble, rejoice in tribulation; yea, even count it all joy when they fall into divers temptations ; provided they fall not in them! For it is of such as these that it is written in the book of Revelation, “ These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." And again: “ the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters : and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Rev. 7. 14, 17.
stood up :
Eliphaz admonisheth Job ; relateth his vision. i Then Eliphaz the Temanite whelps are scattered abroad. answered and said,
12 Now a thing was secretly 2 If we assay to commune with brought to me, and mine ear thee, wilt thou be grieved ? but received a little thereof. who can withhold himself from 13 In thoughts from the visions speaking ?
of the night, when deep sleep 3 Behold, thou hast instructed falleth on men, many, and thou hast strength- 14 Fear came upon me, and ened the weak hands.
trembling, which made all my 4 Thy words have upholden bones to shake. him that was falling, and thou 15 Then a spirit passed before hast strengthened the feeble my face; the hair of my flesh knees.
5 But now it is come upon 16 It stood still, but I could not thee, and thou faintest; it touch- discern the form thereof : an eth thee, and thou art troubled. image was before mine eyes, 6 Is not this thy fear, thy con- there was silence, and I heard a fidence, thy hope, and the up- voice, saying, rightness of thy ways ?
17 Shall mortal man be more 7 Remember, I pray thee, who just than God? shall a man be ever perished, being innocent ? more pure than his Maker? or where were the righteous cut 18 Behold, he put no trust in off?
his servants; and his angels he 8 Even as I have seen, they charged with folly: that plow iniquity, and sow 19 How much less in them that wickedness, reap the same. dwell in houses of clay, whose
9 By the blast of God they foundation is in the dust, which perish, and by the breath of his are crushed before the moth ? nostrils are they consumed. 20 They are destroyed from
10 The roaring of the lion, and morning to evening: they perish the voice of the fierce lion, and for ever, without any regardthe teeth of the young lions, are ing it. broken.
21 Doth not their excellency 11 The old lion perisheth for which is in them go away ? they lack of
LECTURE 767. Against presuming to judge the ways of God. The friends of Job, who came to him as comforters, appear to have been in too great haste to reprove him for his murmurs, instead of first soothing his distress. They were right however in considering, that faithful admonition is an act of greater kindness to a friend who is in fault, than silent acquiescence in his error. On comparing the great principles on which they argue, with other passages of Scripture, it will be found that they are the dictates of divine truth. And the vision, which Eliphaz mentions in this chapter, plainly proves, that he was one of those
among the patriarchs, to whom God vouchsafed to manifest his will by a supernatural revelation. He may have been mistaken in applying to Job's conduct and misfortunes some of those principles of sacred truth, which are here so powerfully set forth. But they are principles of sacred truth notwithstanding. And as such we may profitably apply them to our own instruction in righteousness.
Let us then learn from the first part of this chapter, that however easy it may be to give good counsel, and however readily we may exhort others to show themselves patient and resigned, we should find it no easy matter to act upon our counsel, if trouble should overtake ourselves. Let us therefore be the less disappointed, when the advice which we are apt to give proves unsuccessful. And further let us be assured, for our comfort when afflicted, that whilst the wicked, though they have the strength of lions, are sure to perish “ by the blast of God,” the righteous, they whose fear of God is their confidence, and who are guiltless of wilful sin, these will not perish everlastingly, these will live, through the merits of that Saviour by whose grace they stand, these will live in joy to all eternity.
But above all, let us lay to heart the great lesson of humility, and especially of humility in our thoughts towards God, which is set before us in this fearful vision. Let us stand in awe of the great majesty of One, so great, so good, so altogether holy, as the Lord God Almighty. Let us never presume to scan his dealings with his creatures, or to set up for one moment, even in thought, the judgment of such poor weak mortal beings as we are, against the wisdom of Him who made the worlds. No: let us answer reverently, to the questions put so solemnly, by the voice which addressed itself to Eliphaz, No; mortal man cannot indeed, on any ground, pretend to be just with God, much less pretend to be a judge of what is right for Him to do. No; there is not one of us, not even the most eminent of the saints of God, altogether trustworthy in his sight. No; there is not one even of his angels, altogether wise. And if they who dwell in heaven are liable to be charged with folly, how much less may we pretend to wisdom, such wisdom as to scan the dealings of our Maker; we, who dwell on earth, and in a fleshly tabernacle; we, whose flesh is ever bastening to return unto the dust from which it was taken; we, whose whole life is but a progress towards death, and whose memory even our dearest friends in vain endeavour to perpetuate! No; God forbid that we should ever think but with the deepest reverence, and the most entire resignation, of whatsoever He thinks fit to do! God grant, that whensoever we are made aware, that any thing is either ordered by Him in his providence, or revealed by Him in his word, we may always be heartily inclined, as we are most entirely bound, instead of raising the question of its fitness, not only to acquiesce and to obey, but also to admire and adore !
Eliphaz adviseth Job to commit his cause to God. i Call now, if there be any that 9 Which doeth great things will answer thee; and to which and unsearchable ; marvellous of the saints wilt thou turn ? things without number:
2 For wrath killeth the foolish 10 Who giveth rain upon the man, and envy slayeth the silly earth, and sendeth waters upon
the fields : 3 I have seen the foolish taking 11 To set up on high those root: but suddenly I cursed his that be low; that those which habitation.
mourn may be exalted to safety. 4 His children are far from 12 He disappointeth the desafety, and they are crushed in vices of the crafty, so that their the gate, neither is there any to hands cannot perform their endeliver them.
terprise. 5 Whose harvest the hungry 13 He taketh the wise in their eateth up, and taketh it own craftiness: and the counsel out of the thorns, and the robber of the froward is carried headswalloweth up their substance. long:
6 Although affliction cometh 14 They meet with darkness in not forth of the dust, neither doth the day-time, and grope in the troublespring out of the ground; noon day as in the night.
7 Yet man is born unto trouble, 15 But he saveth the poor from as the sparks fly upward. the sword, from their mouth, and
8 I would seek unto God, and from the hand of the mighty. unto God would I commit my 16 So the poor bath hope, and
iniquity stoppeth her mouth.
LECTURE 768. The duty of trusting in God's providential care. In this chapter the words of Eliphaz the Temanite are continued. Having pressed on Job's attention the wickedness of presuming to judge the ways of God, he now points out, how useless it is to seek for help in trouble at any other source than at the hand of the Almighty. “ Call now 'if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn?” These words seem to allude to the practice of paying divine homage to holy men who had departed this life; one of the earliest corruptions of true religion. Lest Job in his anger should be tempted to commit such folly as this, Eliphaz warns him, that 6 wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one." He next points out the usual end of them that forsake God; how suddenly, as the Psalmist says, “ they consume, perish, and come to a fearful end.” Ps. 73. 18. They may seem for a time to be taking root. Yet both they and their children may expect to be soon overtaken by danger, disaster, and death. At the same time Eliphaz owns, that all men are naturally heirs of affliction ; the sin of their race having brought them into this miserable condition, and every man's own sin having also provoked the displeasure of the Lord. It would therefore be Job's wisdom, Eliphaz argues, in any case to humble himself before God, and to cast himself on God's mercy and marvellous loving kindness, for comfort, and deliverance out of trouble.
In the striking account of God's righteous dealings, which is next hereupon set forth, it is to be observed, that there is one expression, which appears beyond doubt to be quoted by St. Paul, as the word of divine revelation : namely, “ He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” Thus it is that Eliphaz speaks of God's providential dispensations. And when St. Paul exhorts the Corinthians as follows, “ If any man among you seem to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise,” he adds by way of proof, “ For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.' For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” 1 Cor. 3. 18, 19. This reference stamps the character of revelation on the words before us. Job does indeed afterwards call his friends - miserable comforters ;” and finds fault with their discourses as “ vain words.” Ch. 16. 2, 3. And the Lord also, at the end, says to Eliphaz the Temanite, “ My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends : for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.” Ch. 42. 7. And even as to Job's own part of the conference, the Lord thus answers him out of the whirlwind, “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge ?” Ch. 38. 2. So that we could not fail to err, if we were to suppose that all which the several human speakers say, throughout the book, has the sanction of divine authority. Yet St. Paul plainly attributes such authority to some of the words in the passage before us. We shall therefore probably do right to consider, that parts of what is said by each, though it may be sometimes hard to say which parts, come to us, whether as statements of truth, or as rules for practice, with all the weight of express revelation.
Let us then view the words before us, not merely as a record of what Eliphaz said, but as the dictates of inspired truth. Let us, as these words suggest, meditate devoutly on the greatness and the goodness, on the wisdom and the justice of God. Let us be encouraged in doing right by this striking account of the sure and equitable providence, with which God discomfits those who persist in doing wrong. And when we are in any manner of trouble, need, sickness, sorrow, or adversity, let us adopt the resolution of Eliphaz, not merely as the wisest and best course which man's judgment can prescribe, but as the course prescribed to us with authority from on high; and be ready both to say with him, and to act as well as say, " I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause.”