« PreviousContinue »
my sin ?
Job concludeth his first answer to his three friends. 13 Oh that thou wouldest hide 18 And surely the mountain me in the grave, that thou would- falling cometh to nought, and est keep me secret until thy the rock is removed out of his wrath be past, that thou would- place. est appoint me a set time, and 19 The waters wear the stones : remember me !
thou washest away the things 14 If a man die, shall he live which grow out of the dust of the again? All the days of my ap- earth; and thou destroyest the pointed time will I'wait, till my hope of man. change come.
20 Thou prevailest for ever 15 Thou shalt call, and I will against him, and he passeth : answer thee: thou wilt have a thou changest his countenance, desire to the work of thine and sendest him
21 His sons come to honour, 16 For now thou numberest my and he knoweth it not; and they steps: dost thou not watch over are brought low, but he per
ceiveth it not of them. 17 My transgression is sealed 22 But his flesh upon him shall up in a bag, and thou sewest up have pain, and bis soul within mine iniquity.
him shall mourn.
LECTURE 784. The true use and advantage of earthly blessings. Our life in this world once lost is irrecoverable. But we have a life in the world that is to come. This appears to have been the hope upon which Job relied, and which he expressed, though not without some obscurity and doubt, in the words which we are now considering. As to our present life being irretrievable, it might well strike Job as strange, that a being so active and intelligent as man, endowed with faculties so superior to those of any other of God's creatures here below, and disposed to enter with such lively pleasure into the enjoyment of all the blessings here placed within his reach, should be after a short career so entirely cut off from all his possessions, connexions, and relationships on earth, that “ his sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.” We also, if we were not so familiar with the fact, should be apt to think this a matter hard to account for. And we might be led by inquiry to account for it on the principle suggested by the words of Job. It is because this life is only a state of preparation for another. It is because the next life is of infinite importance, compared with that which we here occupy for a short season.
As surely as the mountains fall piece by piece, and so gradually decay, as surely as the waters falling drop by drop wear away the hardest rocks, and wash before them whatsoever grows within their reach, so surely does God bring to an end the life of
man, prevail against his strength, cut short his hope of continuance here, and send him away to another place. This is the course of nature, and it cannot be altered; for the course of nature is the ordinance of God. This is the course of nature, and it need not be regretted. For however much we leave behind us when we go, however much we lose or seem to lose by dying, however much of usefulness and enjoyment may seem to be wasted in the world, by the constant departure of its short lived tenants : the truth is, that all is gained which God designs, every object which He has in view is secured, our souls are tried, our faith is proved, our steps are numbered, our sins are noted, our transgressions, yea and also our good works, are written down, and sealed up, and the record safely kept, until the appointed time for which we wait, until our change comes.
Then will God call, and we shall answer. Then will God prove that He has not failed to remember the work of his hands. Then will it be seen, that in all the rich abundance of his workmanship, nothing is wasted, in all the wise arrangements of his providence nothing is misplaced; but that life and death, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, earnest expectation and patient waiting, all tend to the manifestation of God's great glory, and to the greatest possible good of all God's creatures.
For our own parts, the lesson to be learnt hence is this : that we ought to value every thing we have here, simply and solely in reference to its use in forwarding us and fitting us for eternity How greatly ought this thought to moderate our eagerness in pursuing any earthly good! How much ought it to check our grief at the loss of every earthly blessing ! How entirely ought it to change the views, with which we are inclined by nature, and encouraged by the world, to use and enjoy whatsoever we now possess ! It is good for us to have it, only so far as the possession makes us thankful to God, and enables us to do service to Him, and to do good unto each other. It is good for us to enjoy it, only if the enjoyment turns our thoughts to God's goodness in providing for our pleasure, only if it helps to make us long the more entirely for those far better things which He has prepared for them that love Him. It is good for us to keep whatsoever He now bestows, only so long as He thinks fit to let us, only so far as we can keep it without murmuring when called upon to part with it, only so far as we can be all the while prepared to feel, that when it is taken away it is good for us to lose it. It is good for us to have it, or to be without it, to acquire, or to be deprived; it is good for us to wait here, and it is good for us to depart hence; if we in every case are always watching to obey God's will. It is good for us, because, through God's gracious appointment, it ministers to our endless happiness. It is good for us, because through his wonderful condescension it redounds to his divine glory.
Eliphaz findeth fault with what Job had said. i Then answered Eliphaz the know not? what understandest Temanite, and said,
thou, which is not in us? 2 Should a wise man utter vain 10 With us are both the grayknowledge, and fill his belly with headed and very aged men, much the east wind ?
elder than thy father. 3 Should he reason with un- 11 Are the consolations of God profitable talk ? or with speeches small with thee? is there
any wherewith he can do no good? secret thing with thee?
4 Yea, thou castest off fear, 12 Why doth thine heart carry and restrainest prayer before thee away ? and what do thine God.
eyes wink at, 5 For thy mouth uttereth thine 13 That thou turnest thy spirit iniquity, and thou choosest the against God, and lettest such tongue of the crafty.
words go out of thy mouth? 6 Thine own mouth condemn- 14 What is man, that he should eth thee, and not I; yea, thine be clean ? and he which is born own lips testify against thee. of a woman, that he should be
7 Art thou the first man that righteous ? was born? or wast thou made 15 Behold, he putteth no trust before the hills?
in his saints; yea, the heavens 8 Hast thou heard the secret are not clean in his sight. of God ? and dost thou restrain 16 How much more abominable wisdom to thyself?
and filthy is man, which drinketh 9 What knowest thou, that we iniquity like water ?
LECTURE 785. The best method of conciliating the ill tempered. Of all Job's trials, none were perhaps more difficult to bear with patience, than the unfavourable construction which his friends persisted in putting on his case. And certainly he had been greatly provoked by their first series of speeches, and he had been led to speak in his reply angrily and scornfully.
And now we see the ill effect of Job's lasty words, how they were the means of provoking Eliphaz to speak even more unkindly than before. But how naturally is this the consequence of giving utterance to anger and scorn! How true to our corrupt nature, as it is at present, is this picture of what human nature was, so many hundreds and thousands of years back! With due allowance made for difference of language and of manners, how exactly the same are the passions and infirmities of the human speakers in the book of Job, and those of which we are conscious in ourselves! In all this long interval human nature is not altered. The child of man, now born into the world, has the very same moral nature which the child of man had then. His corruption has not been the growth of ages, the effect of continual degeneracy in successive generations. But it was from the fall of our first parents that we all derived the very same taint of depravity,
And from that time to this we have all of us the same sins besetting us, all of us the same propensity to commit them, all the same need of an entire change of heart, ere we can abhor that which is evil, and love that which is good.
Let us examine then, are our hearts changed in respect to wrath, and strife, and evil speaking? If we are spoken to angrily, can we suppress the rising spirit of vexation, and reply with calmness and good temper? Or do we give way to the impulse of passion; and when we are reproached, answer reproachfully; when reviled, revile again? There are few points of duty, in which we are more frequently tempted to transgress. There are few, if any, in which the happiness of social and domestic life is more constantly put in jeopardy, and seriously affected. And many are the ways of self deceit, by which men are led to allow themselves in
and to vex the tempers of each other, consistently, as they suppose, with habits of devotion, and with the maintenance of a religious character. Some by a studied calmness, without kindness, contrive to triumph over those whom they oppose, and whose haste and heat is no further from true charity than the cold and sullen temper with which it is encountered. Some by a quick transition from rage to meekness think to make all smooth at once, and consider that they do no harm by the fury of the moment, or at least not more than they make amends for by the forgiveness which ensues. And some like Eliphaz give vent to the expression of their own wrath, under cover of announcing the declarations of divine truth; and whilst they really say that which is edifying in itself, concerning God's holiness and man's sinfulness, render all their admonition fruitless, by its being evidently intended not to edify but to mortify and condemn; not to glorify God, but to exalt and justify themselves. In approaching a fellow creature whose temper is provoked, and whom we desire to render calm and penitent, sensible of his sin, and desirous to amend, for his own advantage, and for God's glory, the very first thing we have to look to is the state of our own heart, and to watch that no root of bitterness lurks there, no pride or passion seeking for indulgence at the expense of our offending brother. More especially is this necessary, if we ourselves have been the cause of the provocation, whether intentionally or otherwise. First we must with prayer and deep searching of ourselves, attain to an entire calm within, the calm that comes of true affection, not the quieting of passion, but the energy of love. Having this sincere desire to do good for the real motive of what we say, we shall need no study of manner or of words, to give our brother the impression, that our address is not meant to add to his vexation, but to allay his pain. And when we have thus obtained access to his heart, we may safely attempt to plead that word and will of God, to which we prove that we have submitted our own tempers.
Eliphaz dwelleth on the miserable end of the wicked. 17 I will shew thee, hear me; bosses of his bucklers : and that which I have seen I 27 Because he covereth his face will declare ;
with his fatness, and maketh col18 Which wise men have told lops of fat on his flanks. from their fathers, and have not 28 And he dwelleth in desolate hid it :
cities, and in houses which no 19 Unto whom alone the earth man inhabiteth, which are ready was given, and no stranger passed to become heaps. among them.
29 He shall not be rich, neither 20 The wicked man travaileth shall his substance continue, neiwith pain all his days, and the ther shall he prolong the pernumber of years is hidden to the fection thereof upon the earth. oppressor.
30 He shall not depart out of 21 A dreadful sound is in his darkness; the flame shall dry up ears: in prosperity the destroyer his branches, and by the breath shall come upon
of his mouth shall he go away. 22 He believeth not that he 31 Let not bim that is deceived shall return out of darkness, and trust in vanity: for vanity shall he is waited for of the sword. be his recompence.
23 He wandereth abroad for 32 It shall be accomplished bebread, saying, Where is it? he fore his time, and his branch knoweth that the day of dark- shall not be green. ness is ready at his hand. 33 He shall shake off his unripe
24 Trouble and anguish shall grape as the vine, and shall cast make him afraid; they shall pre- off his flower as the olive. vail against him, as a king ready 34 For the congregation of hyto the battle.
pocrites shall be desolate, and 25 For he stretcheth out his hand fire shall consume the tabernaagainst God, and strengtheneth cles of bribery. himself against the Almighty. 35 They conceive mischief, and
26 He runneth upon him, even bring forth vanity, and their on his neck, upon the thick belly preparetli deceit.
LECTURE 786. The hopelessness of being opposed to Almighty God. Throughout this whole speech of Eliphaz, we find nearly the same topics dwelt upon, as those which he had at first brought forward. See Ch. 4. 5. He urges as before the perfect holiness of God, and thence argues that his judgments overtake the wicked and the wicked only; implying, that whatsoever Job's character might be with man, he must have been a very grievous sinner in the sight of God. In his former speech he had referred to a vision which he had seen, a vision of a supernatural kind. Now he strengthens his own statements, by the authority of the aged and wise and good, who agreed with him in thinking, that sooner or later the ungodly are sure to come unto destruction. And the men to whom he refers were those, he says, “ Unto whom alone