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of our afflictions, what particular sins we ought to mortify and subdue. The bitterness of afflictions should make us sensible of the insupportable terrors of the divine wrath, and the great evil of sin, which exposeth men Л it.
2. Let us always be careful to remember that God is not likeman, that he hath not eyes of flesh, and teeth not as man teeth; that his days and years are not like ours; he sees in darkness, darknes* and light are both alike to him; he sees all things, we, but a few, and those imperfectly. His eyes are never closed in darkness, as ours soon will. Man looketh at the outward afifiearance, but God searcheth. the heart. Our days are short, and soon finished, his are eternal. He needs not length of time to open new scenes, and make any new discovery ; to him every thing is present, and nothing old or new. Let this thought dwell upon our minds, and teach us to reverence and adore the infinite and eternal, the omniscient and omnipresent Spirit.
3. It is a happy thing when afflicted of God, or censured of men, to be able to appeal to God, and say, Thou knowett I am not wicked. I am a sinner, a guilty creature, but am not an hypocrite, devoted <• ein, and an enemy of God and goodness. God kntws whether this be the case with us; and to be able to make the appeal to him wifl give us support and comfort, and fill us with joy, whatever we suffer, or however we are treated.
4. The providence of God in the creation and preservation of man ought to be remembered and seriously acknowledged. His wisdom, power, and goodness are displayed in making us of clay, and producing human creatures in so astonishing a manner; their bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made. Our life, our comforts, and the continuance of them, are owing to his friendly and daily •visitation. Let us give glory to God, our father, and serve him with body and spirit, which are his.
5. We are taught that a sinful state is a very woful one. What Job says of himself, is applicable to all ; and we should each make the reflection with application to ourselves, If I be wicked, wo unto me. Many woes attend wicked men at present; but more and greater hereafter, even eternal ones; and those who have been bora of religious parents, enjoyed great advantages, and made a solemn profession of religion, have peculiar reason to say this. Wo, yea, ten thousand woes, to such, if, after all, they prove wicked. Once more,
6. The close of the chapter gives us an instructive view of death. It is leaving this world and all its concerns, and going to the land of perfect and unmingled darkness: and we are never more to return ; never return to the comforts or pleasures of life; never return to a state of trial, so as to mend a bad life, or improve and make better a good one. Let this teach us to work while it is day, to improve life while it is continued; then, though the body be lodged in a dark and silent grave, our separate spirits will remove to the land of light: that light, -which is sown for the righteous: and we shall be so well pleased with the glorious and happy change, that we shall never once desire to return hither any
jnia ehafiter contain* the speech of Zophm, another of Job's friertdm. He is called the Naamalhits, from a town called JVaamath, which we read of in Joshua xv. 41. He accuses Job of talking idly and irreverently; he gives a noble description of God's greatness artel immensity j and offers Job some good advice.
1 r I 1 HEN answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,
2 JL Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a man full of talk be justified? is talking sufficient to
3 firove his innocence f Should thy lies, thy false assertions concerning thyself and God, make men hold their peace? and when thou mockest, speakest scornfully of God and thy friends, shall
A no man make thee ashamed? For thou hast said, My doctrine [is] pure, what I maintain concerning God and Ids providence, in the afflictions of the righteous, and the prosperity of the vncked\ (ch. vi. 10. ix. 2?.) is free from error, and I am clean in thine eyes, that is^ in the eyes of God, and chargeable with no gross
5 crimes. But Q that God would speak, and open his lips against thee, that is, speak in a solemn manner, and show thee thy error }
6 And that he would show thee the becrets of wisdom, that [they are] double to that which is ; all thou canst know of him is not half of what he is. Know therefore that God exacteth of thee [less] than thine iniquity [deserveth ;] that thou hast deserved
f far more than he has laid upon thee. Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? the secrets of his providence, and the reasons of his proceedings?
8 [It is] as high as heaven ; what canst thou do ? deeper than hell; what canst thou know ? as soon might you measure the
9 height of heaven and the depth of hell. The measure thereof [is] longer than the earth, and broader than the sea j it is absolutely
10 boui&less. If he cut off, lake away our relatives or comforts, and shut up, confine us by afflictions ; or gather together many afflictions as a hunter gathers beasts ar birds in his net, then who
11 can hinder him? For he knoweth vain men, the vanity and folly if men; he seeth wickedness also; will he not then consider
12 [it,] and reckon with them for it? For vain man would be wise, though man be born [like] a wild ass's colt; an ignorant untractable creature, yet he pretends to be wise and to arraign the proceed
13 ings of the Almighty.* If thou prepare thine heart, where all religion mast begin, and stretch out thine hands toward him, pour
14 out ftrvent, earnest prayer; If iniquity [be] in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles;
}5 cleanse thijselfand rejorm thy family, For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; thou shalt be free from these dreadful boils; yea, thou shalt be tteadfast, and shalt not fear; be established in л safe condition, and have a composed mind, through the assurance
* Wiit! asses are creature* of much more fie and spirit than oars : it is a. proper similitude to represent the impetuosity of tempei common among men in affliction, which lead* them to censure even GcU himself, thougU ;Utv arc very incompetent judges of his bror
16 of God's favour: Because thou shall forget [thy] misery, [and] remember [it] as waters [that] pass away, which once rote
17 high, but are guile gone: And [thine] age shall be clearer than the noon day ¿ thou shall shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning; thou shall blaze out more than noon; the remainder of thy
18 days shall be full of prosperity. And thon shalt be secure because there is hope of God's love and favour; yea, thou shalt dig [about thee, and] thou shalt take thy rest in safety; thy
19 fierson and property shall be secure, and thy mind serene> Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make [thee] afraid; yea, many shall make suit unto thee, or, as in the Hebrew, entreat thy
face, (Psalm xlv. 12.) desire thy favour and friendship, because
20 of thy eminent felicity. But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, be disappointed of the happiness they looked for, and they shall not escape, like a man who sees pressing danger near and cannot es* cape it, but falls under it by his own fear; and their hope [shall be as] the giving Up of the ghost, or a puff of breath that i* quickly gone, and will never return again.
I. TfTERE is a specimen of the temper with which most dis« JL JL pûtes are managed. In the language which the poet puts into the mouth of Zophar, he represents Job as a man of no wisdom or principle; a man that loved to hear himself talk, and yet said nothing to the purpose. He misinterprets what he said, and •wishes God would speak; being sure that he would argue on his side of the question. This is commonly the temper of disputants, cither in writing or conversation: they charge one another with ignorance and impertinence; put the worst colour on what their antagonist says, and are very confident that God would take their part in the debate. Let persons of warm tempers carefully avoid debates; and let all who are engaged in a dispute, even upon the most common or trivial subjects, set a watch upon the door of their lips, lest they displease God, injure their brethren and themselves, and even the very cause they would defend.
2. Let the depths of divine wisdom and justice, be always remembered by us, especially in times of affliction. Let us remember, that there are secrets of wisdom with God, far above our comprehension. The greatest part of vrhat we know, is less than the least part of what we are ignorant of. Let us*dore the judgments we cannot comprehend. We know little of God's nature, or the design of his providence; therefore let us never prescribe to him, or quarrel with him. He exacteth less than our iniquities deserve. A thought this, which, if encouraged, will silence all our murmurîng; for wherefore should a living Man complain, a man for the pirnishment of his sins ? when, under the heaviest afflictions, God dealt not with ив after our sins, neither rewards us according to our iniçuitics.
3. Let our own ignorance and vanity likewise be remembered, especially in times of distress. After our most laborious inquiries, we cannot find out the Almighty to perfection. Vain man thinks him~ self wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt; an ignorant ontractable creature. Let us not value ourselves on our own wisdom, when surrounded with so many mysteries that we cannot fathom. Young persons especially should guard against pride and conceit; and let their parents be watchful to subdue their spirits, and teach them knowledge and humility. Let us all remember our weakness and ignorance; that instead of prescribing to God, we may be in subjection to the father of spirits, and live.
4. The instructions here given to Job are proper for all, but more especially for afflicted persons, to attend to. It is our duty to
. pray, to live near to God, and to prepare our hearts for his service; 'else we shall neither be comfortable to ourselves, nor pleasing t» 'him.' We should stretch out our hands with fervour of spirit, and put iniquity away from our hearts and our houses with detestation, and with a resolution never more to permit its return. Then may we hope for prosperity and comfort; at least we shall have a foundation for cheerfulness within, and a hope for futurity; a cheerfulness that will not be lost, and a hope that will be crowned with everlasting enjoyment.
Job replies to Zofihar in this and the two following chapters. He censures him and his other friends, defends himself, and gives a sublime and noble description of God's sovereignty and dominion.
1 A ND Job answered and said, in an ironical way, No doubt
2 JLJL but ye [are] the people, the only wise and understanding: wj««,and when you are gone out of the world wisdom shall die with
3 you. But I have understanding as well as you; I [am] not inferior to you; I have ability to judge of these matters equal to yours: yea, who knoweth not such things as these? even the meanest understand that God is infinite in wisdom, power, andjus
4 tice; but that is not the question between us. I am [as] one mocked of his neighbour, delivered over from one neighbour to anotheip as a jest that is to go round the company; who calleth upon God and he answereth him, or rather, he calleth to God, and let him answer him; (thus Eliphaz had insulted him, cha/i.'v. \.and thus Zophar, chap. xi. 5.) and thus the just upright [man is] laughed to scorn; this is no new tiling,
5 the best of men have been served so. He that is ready to slip with [his] feet [is as] a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease ; he who is brought into a precarious and perishing condition, though he formerly shone like a lamp, is despised; when he loselh his external splendor and grandeur, he loseth the houattr
that usrd to bcftaidhim ,• they who are in prosperity regard him
6 like the snuff of a lamfi just going out. The tabernacles of robbers, they and their families, prosper, and they that provoke God are secure, they neither feel nor fear evil; into whose hand God bringeth [abundantly,] even of those things which they abuse, to
7 aff'ront and provoke him. But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:
8 Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee; this is so plain tliat the brute creatures teach thee this; they all serve the wicked, and contri
9 butc to their convenience and luxury. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? it is plain
lO God hath appointed it should be so; In whose hand [is] the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind ; who is the
I 1 sovereign disposer of all the creatures, as well as of mankind. Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat? cannot iny understanding judge aid determineof words and arguments, as my palate does of meat? As much as to say, If you had a true taste for rational discourse, you would pay a greater regard to
12 Id hat I say. With the ancient [is] wisdom; and in length of days understanding: there is wisdom among men, especially
13 among aged men; how much more with the eternal God! With hirh [is] wisdom to contrive, and strength to execute; he hath
14- counsel and understanding. Behold, he breaketh down and it cannot be built again ; he destroys mots comforts, and they can' not be recovered: he shutteth up a man in prison, or affliction, or puts a yoke on his neck, as the word signifies, and there can be no opening, none can restore to liberty and happiness, unless he
X 5 please. Behold, he withholdcth the waters, that is, the rain, and they, that is, the springs, dry up: also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth, overthrow >he banks, and carry all before
16 them. With him [is] strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver [are] his; though some are wiser than others, drive on their schemes, and think to make others their properly, he is
17 above them, and call frustrate their designs'.* He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, as at his victorious chariot, and maketh the judges fools, so that they form bad schemes, and pass wrong judg
18 merits. He looseth the bond or kings, he deprives them of that majesty and aif kority which should keep their penftte in awe, and girdeth their loins with a girdle; brings them jtUo a servile con~
19 dilion, or into prison. He leadeth princes, the greatest rninisters of state, away spoiled, he takes away their authority and hon~ our, and overthroweth the mighty, those who were endowed with
20 great power. He removeth away the speeclyrf the trusty, and taketh a\v»y the understanding of the aged, on whose lips Persuasion seemed to hang ; he confounds their mind with unex
21 prcted CQt'timitics, so that they seem lobe infatuated. He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of
• Up. S/v/i-» tMnlothi* ii a reference to the fall, to the serpent"! deceiving Eve, md fcotn t-em.; subject to the control of God.
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