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.4. The ceasing of all distinction in the grave, shows us how unbecoming pride and arrogance are. Do the rich and the poor meet there? do the small and the great, the servant and the master, lie down and rest together without distinction? How unbecoming then are those haughty airs, and that tyrannical treatment, which the rich and the great, which princes and nobles and masters, too often manifest to their subjects, servants or children, yea, to all the poor! Were men but to consider their common end, those who have power would be humble, moderate, kind, and benevolent; and those who are in subjection would be patient and content; especially when we take in the thoughts of another world, where God shall judge and treat men according to their real characters, and not their rank, distinction or circumstances here on earth ; for he will judge every man according to his works.
5. Let us learn from the whole, to guard our tongues and hearts, especially in seasons of affliction. This poetical description of Job's complaints intimates to us, how prone even good and upright men are to be impatient, to vent unbecoming complaints, and to talk in an irrational, foolish manner. We have need to keep our mouth as with a bridle, to keep our hearts with all diligence, that we speak not unadvisedly with our lips, or suffer our hearts to repine. Though we are now in safety, have rest and quiet, troubles may come. Let us labour in patience to possess our souls, and make the best of a troublesome life. Be it ever so afflictive, we have opportunity of glorifying God, and of advancing in religion, of promoting and adorning it, and preparing for a better life. Else we shall hare reason hereafter to take up these complaints, and utter them with great and everlasting anguish ; for better would it have been for men that they had never been born, or died as soon as born, than lived irreligiously, and treasured up to themselves wruth against the day of wrath.
In this chapter the dialogue begins between Job and his friends. They
argue, that if Job had been an upright man, he would not have been 80 heavily afflicted ; this he denies ; and the debate is carried on between them till Elihu moderates it, and God is introduced in all his majesty to determine the cause. All the remarks that have been made by commentators concerning the manner in which Job's friends treated him, and his behaviour coward them, have no foundation, since it inc vident the whole is dramatic and poetical, and the author pul into their mouths what he thought most likely to illustra'e his ar. gument, lo impress the reader, and answer the end for which he wrote the book.
This thought should be continually borne in mind.
1 HEN Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said, [If] we
assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved ? but who can withhold himself from speaking ? intending an apology Vol. IV.
for speaking what he feared would be disagreeable ; but he can presses a greater
regard for truth and usefulness, than for what 3 would please. Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou 4 hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden
him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees. He gives just commendation of Job's friendly attempts to
suphort and counsel others, 10 uphold the weak and feeble knees 5 which sunk and trembled under their burdens. But now it is
come upon thee, and thou faintest ; it toucheth thee, and thou
art troubled ; thou dost not practise thy own le88on ; thus insinu. 6 ating a reflection on Job's character. [ls] not (this) thy fear,
thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways ? is hy not this a time to exercise thy piety, patience, and hope ?* Re
member, I pray thee, who [ever) perished, being innocent ? or where were the righteous cut off? consult thy own observation,
and give one instance in which a person was thus afflicted who was 8 not guilty of some heinous crime ? Even as I have seen, they that
plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same ; many
wicked men cut off, and reaping the due reward of their iniquity. 9 By the blast of God they perish, by some terrible storm which
God raised up against them, and by the breath of his nostrils are 10 they consum
med, by his anger, or by some secret jadgment. The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion, and the teeth of the young lions, are broken ; not only such wicked men as are
weak, but the strongest, stoutest and fiercest, with all their depend. 11 ants, are destroyed by God. The old lion perisheth for lack of 12 prey, and the stout lion's whelps are scattered abroad. Now a
thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little
thereof; some precious instruction concerning the will and word 13 of God. In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep
sleep falleth on men, it happened in the night, when all was sileni, 14 and my thoughts were composed ; then Fear came upon me, and
trembling, which made all my bones to shake, I was seized with 15 violent dread. Then a spiriti passed before my face ; the hair 16 of my flesh stood up : It stood still, but I could not discern the
form thereof: an image (was] before mine eyes, (there was] 17 silence, and I heard a voice, [saying,l!] Shall mortal man be
more just than God ? shall a man, the greatest and most accom
plished man, as the word signifies, be more pure than his Maker ? 18 Behold, he put no trust in his servants, no such trust as if they
• Should not thy piety be thy confidence, and the uprightness of thy ways thy hoge ? Scott.
+ Tyrants and oppressors are here described by lions; and five different words are used for lions, some say, io express the fory and cruelty of oppressors. He intim is not only that they should be destroyed, but their descendants should be reduced to low circumstances, and wander about destitute, seeking food and finuing none. He illustrates and confirms this, by an account of a remarkable vision he had seen. There has been much trifting among commere tators about the time when Eliphaz saw the vision. the nature of the apparition, the manner, the scenery, and design of it. But it seems to be a beautiful effort of the poet's imagination, and contains a plain seference to the manner in which God often revealed himself to his ancient people in visions and dreams.
The original here significs a wind, like that which used to precede the appearance of the Shekinah, or visible manitestations of God to his prophets.
1 Some would render it, I saw no image, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying
were absolutely perfect and infallible ; and his angels he charged with folly, or vanity, who, though good in themselves, and free froma
sin, yet being liable to err, may be said to be charged with folly 19 when compared with unerring wisdom. How much less doth he
put any such trust [in] them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation [is] in the dust, (which] are crushed before the
moth ? poor, weak, frail creatures, who are more easily crushed 20 than a moth, that feeble and contemptible insect. They are de.
stroyed from morning to evening ; continually dying and passe ing away : they perish for ever without any regarding [it ;) they
never return to the world again, and this is 80 common that it is 21. scarce attended to. Doth not their excellency (which is) in them
go away ? they die, even without wisdom; whatever was ex. cellent in them dies with them ; they moulder to the dust, like the brutes that have no understanding. The design of all this was to rebuke Job's complaints and discontent, to show what incompetent judges, weak frail men are of the proceedings of the infinitely wise, pure, and holy God; and in this view it is very much to the purpose.
thy of our imitation. Though he was honourable and rich, a man full of business, who had great and numerous affairs to manage, yet he was disposed and found time to go among his neighbours, to talk with them about their souls, and visit, direct, and comfort them under their afflictions. Thus should we do ; instruct the ignorant, reprove the impatient and discontented, lift up the hands that hang down, strengthen the feeble knees, and say unto them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong. This is a duty we owe to God and our fellow christians, and is an essential part of pure and undefiled religion.
2. It is easier to give good instructions than to take them. Job did not practise his own lessons so well as he should ; and this is too common a case. Those who are ministers, are conscious of their weakness, and how difficult it is to behave as they exhort others to do. This should be a motive to them and to christian parents, and to all, who by their office or relations are instructors of others, to be peculiarly watchful over their own conduct, lest they give occasion for that reproof, thou that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself ? Ministers desire the prayers of their people that their example may teach as well as their doctrine ; and that they may be abundantly comforted of God under their afflictions, that they may be able to comfort others with the like consolations.
3. We are taught that the connection between sin and misery is inseparable. v. 8. Even as I have seen, they that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. This is an awful truth. It does not always appear in this world, though it would generally do So, if we could see men's hearts, and know what they feel in their
conscience. But it is undoubtedly true, if we take in the whole of men's existence. Good men, though ever so much afflicted, shall he finally happy ; and the wicked shall reap the fruit of their doings. This is the language of the New Testament, and let us ai. tend to it ; Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for what a man suueth, that shall he also reap.
4. The majesty of God and the meanness of man, are both very great, but never appear more so than when compared together, as they beautifully are in the passages we have been considering. God employs many servants, to display his glory and widely to diffuse happiness; but puts no absolute trust in them. The greatest, brightest, holiest angels are chargeable with possible and comparit-, tive folly ; and all sink infinitely beneath his glory. What is man, when compared with him! a weak, frail, dying creature. And shall a creature so far below the angels, so infinitely below the Almighty, pretend to quarrel with his providence, to arraign his proceedings, censure his conduct, and act so, as if he was more just and pure than God? What shameful arrogance! what abominable impiety ! Let the thoughts of God's immense greatness and glory, his perfect justice, and unspotted purity, check every murmuring, repining thought; and bow all our souls in humble submission to his will. We need no vision to teach us so plain a lesson ; our own infirmities, and the death of our neighbours from morning to evening, speak it loudly; and if we do not attend to and learn this lesson, all our excellency will vanish ; we shall die without wisdon, and shall be finally miserable, without hope and without end.
In which Eliphaz proceeds with the same argument, that afflictions
such as Job's are a proof of hypocrisy ; he therefore advises him to repent, and return to God; and assures him of returning prosperity, greater and more secure than his former was.
to which of the saints wilt thou turn? examine the opin. ions of others, the holy beings, or angels, who have seen the revo
lutions of ages, and all the saints on earth, let them all produce an 2 instance of a godly man punished as thou art. For wrath, the
wrath of God, killeth the foolish man, and envy, or indignation, 3 slayeth the silly one. I have seen the foolish taking root, and fourishing : but suddenly I cursed his habitation ; I judged him
unhappy, saw a curse hanging over all that belonged to him ; and 4 this will be thy portion. His children are far from safety, they
are exposed to great dangers and calamities, and they are crush
ed in the gate, by the hand of public justice, neither (is there] 5 any to deliver (them.) Whose harvest, though fenced about evo
er 80 strongly, the hungry, whom he had oppressed, breaks through
tre fence, and eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance, any part that
might remain. He has a reference to Job in all these remarks, and 6 reflects severely upon his supposed character, Although atflico
tion cometh not forth of the dust, by chance, or only from second 7 causes, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground ; Yet man
is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward ; it is as natural for him to fall into it as the sparks to mount, and his afflictions are as numerous as they ; naturally arising from his circumstances
and condition on earth, and his connections with others ; therefore it 8 is unbecoming to murmur and repine. I would seek unto God,
and unto God would I commit my cause ; were I in your case, I.
would seek relief from him, I would refer myself to his providence ; 9 Which doeth great things and unsearchable ; marvellous things
without number ; he is therefore able to help those that seek him, 10 and punish those who rebel against him : Who giveth rain upon
the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields ; is good to all his Il creatures : To set up on high those that be low; that those
which mourn may be exalted to safety ; he can exalt the poor to 12 wealth, and place the oppressed in security. He disappointeth the
devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform (their)
enterprise ; cannot raise themselves to power, or execute their 13 designs. He taketh the wise in their own craftiness : and the
counsel of the froward is carried headlong; he makes artful and
insinuating men miscarry in their most sanguine expectations, and 14 hasten their own ruin. They meet with darkness in the day
time, and grope in the noon day as in the night ; they are con
founded in the plainest things, and see not their danger though oth15 ers do. But he saveth the poor, him that humbles himself and
seeks to God, from the sword, from their mouth, and from the
hand of the mighty ; from open violence, and the deceitful mouth 16 of flattery and calumny. So the poor hath hope, he need not
destiąir, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth ; proud oppressors should not boast themselves, because they shall be soon mortified
and confounded; therefore on all occasions God is a fit object of 17 shine addresses and confidence. Behold, happy [is] the man
whom God correcteth, 80 as to convince and humble, as the word signifies : therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty ; count it not a terrible evil, or useless and unprofitable ;
but esteem it a privilege, a means of happiness, and improve it 18 accordingly : For he maketh gore, and bindeth up; he wound
eth, and his hands make whole, like a tensler and skillful surgeon. 19 He shall deliver thee in six troubles : yea, in seven there shall
no evil touch thee; if thou wilt take this course amidst all the
troubles that surround thee, he will be at hand to help and deliver 20 thee. In famine he shall redeem thee from death : and in war 21 from the power of the sword. Thou shalt be hid from the
scourge of the tongue, from slander: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh ; of ruin by calumny or false aca